How To Survive This Election When You Disagree With People You Love

True compassion isn’t borne out pity, it’s borne out of a genuine desire to empower individuals, societies, to achieve their highest potential, their peace.

This article started out as a way to convince your conservative family members to vote for Hillary. But then fire came out of my nose. That wasn’t the article I set out to write, that’s just what happened when I forgot that I was “going high” with Michelle. (If you read that as “getting high,” that is also acceptable.)

Ravishly is going high. I am going high.

After the nose flames, I did the only sensible thing I could. I put essential oil in my diffuser (Serenity from doTerra, because only the most expensive woo will do) and cried.

This dumpster fire of an election is literally killing me. If this election were a skin condition, I’d put coconut oil on it (unless any of my lactating friends have milk to spare). I haven’t yet, but if I figure it out, I’m going to diffuse essential oil into the chem trails right along with the other classified chemicals the government is vapor-showering us with.

Essential oil of “OMG, PLEASE VOTE FOR HILLARY.”

It’s a new blend of orange, peppermint, lavender, and desperation.

Anyway, I deleted the first 1000 words I wrote, because WWJD?

The answer is not “berate.”

EVEN if the question is, “How do you keep your COMPLETELY ILLOGICAL family members from voting for an equally illogical presidential candidate?”

This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do because it’s against my religion to not be enraged when people are making stupid decisions.

As you angrily hide people from your Facebook timeline, remember that the people you know who are voting for Trump are also human beings. They may be bigoted, racist, sexist, dimwits —  but they also may be people who aren’t malicious, just frustrated.

We are 19 days from the election. There is no amount of Facebook unfriending that is going to make you not related to your Fox News-addicted Uncle Jeff. Your father will still be your father, whether he votes for Donald Trump or Santa Claus.

In the zen tradition, I have a long way to go but if I make it until November 9th, I’m golden.

Here’s my plan — but you might not like it.

Compassion.

The Buddha said we should extend compassion for all living things. You don’t have to be Buddhist to believe in the power of forgiveness and compassion. That’s just the example I’m using because it’s the one that works for me.

The compassion to which the Buddha refers is not pity, nor is it rooted in condescension. This compassion is the awareness that even the folks you fundamentally disagree with — even if those folks hurt you intentionally or otherwise — are deserving of understanding.

Stay with me.  

As you angrily hide people from your Facebook timeline, remember that the people you know who are voting for Trump are also human beings. They might be bigoted, racist, sexist, jerkfaces —  but they also may be people who aren’t malicious, just frustrated.

These are people who may very genuinely believe that America itself is more of a nightmare than this election. They may believe that big government is the reason they can’t get a job or keep a job or pay their bills. They may be living in poverty. They may think that the bad guy is actually a good guy. Sometimes it seems that way.

Sometimes screaming seems like an effective strategy for change.

Maybe they don’t care about civil liberties because they are too busy trying to figure out how to feed their kids. Maybe the thought of a tax increase — even a slight one — makes them fear for their future.

Maybe they just watch Fox News and listen to Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. Maybe that’s all they’ve ever known.

I am reminding myself — everyday, multiple times a day — that people have very deeply held beliefs that are borne out of experiences I can't understand.

I know this is going to make you angry.

This entire election cycle is like my four-year-old in a time-out. It’s all screaming and bargaining for things, like five more minutes on the iPad or ice cream before dinner. This kind of anger will not be reasoned with.

But stay with me.

I am angry, too. I am angry even as I write this. I am angry that racist, sexist, bigoted people exist.

But I am also angry that stopping to acknowledge that they exist has been a consistent struggle for me. Not just in this election cycle, but in my life. They exist, and they too are humans — imperfect, struggling humans.

I’m angry, devastated even, that my family — people I LOVE and share actual genetic material with — would choose a man that is so obviously inept to literally lead the entire free world.

I am so angry that I have hidden them on Facebook. I am so angry that I have avoided having any face-to-face contact with them. I am so angry that I am actively avoiding people I love very deeply because we do not share the same position and it’s eroding my confidence in mankind.

My father is voting for Trump.

My father is voting for Donald Trump. My father was interviewed by our local news station because he waited at the airport to greet Trump’s plane. He shared the interview on his Facebook, and I shrunk.

He is a pretty conservative guy who thinks Hillary is awful, and is voting for a guy I think is awful.

Three weeks after my dad was on the news talking about Donald Trump Making America Great Again, he was in my garden. He was in my garden up to his thighs in the dried, overgrown remnants of the summer harvest I never got to. He knew I’d never get to it because I'd had a total hysterectomy that would prevent me from doing anything until it was too late to plant for fall.

He spent a day, and then another, and another, and another — five in total — cleaning and tilling and prepping, and finally, planting my fall garden. He never complained about the enormous mess he found there. He just told me he wanted to give me a garden this fall.

Because he knows how important my garden is to me.

My father is a Veteran of the Vietnam War. He makes a killer steak and can fix any broken thing, ever, anywhere. He gives an unbelievably skilled backrub — every time I see him, without my asking.

I was really angry that he and so many other men I love are voting for Trump. At one point I even said that anyone voting for Trump was voting against me.

I meant it.

But see, this is what compassion is. This is where the hard work is.

True compassion isn’t borne out pity, it’s borne out of a genuine desire to empower individuals to achieve their highest potential, their peace.

I know that sounds woo as shit.

It is.

Because the truth is this, the common denominator in the universe is suffering and sadness. And the pathway to happiness isn’t through a comment section argument; it cannot be achieved via the sharing of an article that denounces one party or another, one person or another.

It can only be achieved through a shifting of perspective, a shifting of the heart.

That includes the people voting for the people you would never vote for.

It’s woo, and I believe the way to happiness is through it.

The way to survive this election cycle, and come out the other side with your relationships (and sanity) intact is to be aware that the way through it is rooted in the willingness to offer compassionate understanding.

This compassion isn’t just for them, it’s for you.

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