I’m in that cliche point in my journey through my 20s where I’m panicking and stressed and insecure about everything. All I’m constantly certain of is that Ted Cruz should be the next president of the United States and that goat cheese is the best cheese this planet has to offer. And as terrified as I am of the future and as much as I just want to be a five year old passed out in a Disney World bathroom again, I know that I have potential.
But at this specific time in my life, where I’m always tired and perpetually anxious, I’m a little more delicate than usual.
When a friend of mine sent me a screen shot of this, my heart started beating violently and frighteningly fast.
A person that I haven’t seen or spoken to since high school explicitly mentioned me in a status without actually tagging me, and proceeded to mock and patronize me without having the decency to directly address me. This isn’t the screen shot I was sent, these are screen shots taken from my own phone; I liked the status and comments.
More people liked the status, and more of them commented. I don’t know why I was so affected by a dozen irrelevant people I attended high school with. I know what I believe, and I don’t care whether or not my former classmates agree with me. But the more I thought about the vainglorious display that my classmates had put on Facebook, the more I felt my annoyance become anger.
I was tempted to point to this as an example of liberals showing their true colors as self righteous bullies that accuse everyone that doesn’t agree with them of closed mindedness while they live in echo chambers of hypocrisy. But I remembered that the person that sent me the screen shot in the first place was about as far left as I am far right, and that character isn’t determined by party affiliation. They did something simple, considerate and kind by choosing to put partisanship aside, and be the friend I needed. Some of the most important people in my life are liberals. You don’t have to respect someone’s opinions to treat them with respect.
When politics are your life, and you’re so passionate about a cause, it’s easy to dehumanize your opposition. It’s easy to disrespect them, and it’s easy to treat them in a way that you’d never want to be treated. And it’s easy to justify it if you refuse to believe that decency exists beyond your limited worldview.
But we all need to remember that as personal as politics can be, there is a person behind the politics.