One more reason for optimism

I don’t always listen well, especially to those whose opinions differ greatly from my own on subjects dear to me. Fact, not pride, necessitates I admit that. It’s the biggest problem with my generation. We set our heels in. We make up our minds and, honestly, it takes natural disaster to open them back up. And even that doesn’t always work as we’ve found out over the last few years.

Natalie and I voted earlier today, her first time. She was ready. She holds very strong opinions, and she had decided exactly how she wanted to vote. Like me, she has little tolerance for those holding different opinions, or so I thought. And so I feared truthfully.

As we were driving home and talking about the election, Natalie mentioned that she had been in an informal group discussion at work about politics. First of all, I’m so impressed that she was in a group at work discussing politics! The group was made up of employees and parents of some of the students, and she personally liked all of those in the group.

This group had already established a good and positive relationship, so she felt comfortable asking someone on the other side (polar opposite politically) why she liked a certain candidate. And this woman responded. She shared her reasons for supporting this national politician, reasons that Natalie not only didn’t know were important to this friend, but one policy change of which she wasn’t even aware. And Natalie’s response to this woman was, “Oh, I didn’t know that.” And then she came home to share this information with me, and I also didn’t know about it. On the surface, that might seem pretty benign really, but it’s not. It’s not because most of us wouldn’t have asked the question, and if we had, we wouldn’t have listened to the response.

Again in the face of an uncertain and truly scary future in this country, I am heartened by this next generation, by their willingness to stand up for what is right, voice and vote their hearts and opinions, and most especially by their openness to the points of view of others, however different from their own.

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