Left Wing Loves Right Wing

What if I told you the left wing and the right wing belong to the same bird?

– Author Unknown

My husband and I have been married 38 years. My husband is a Republican who is quite content being part of South Dakota’s majority party. I’ve been a Democrat since I registered to vote at age 18 and am quite content to remain part of South Dakota’s minority party. What is perhaps surprising is that we both are also quite content to stay married to each other until death do us part.

Have our political party labels caused some problems? Yes.

My husband has been asked questions like, “How can you be married to a Democrat?” Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and powerful politicians say all sorts of horrible things about me based on my political party label. I know because I listen to KOTA radio and I read their tweets. Since I live in South Dakota, I don’t hear as much criticism of Republicans (unless they’re criticizing each other), but I realize nasty, demeaning name calling plagues both political parties.   

Marriage and relationships are difficult enough without certain politicians and media maniacs doing their best to hinder our efforts at understanding and unity. Powerful people are encouraging us to distrust and disrespect each other. It’s frightening because it wasn’t all that long ago that we had a horrible civil war in our country in which family members, neighbors – fellow Americans – fought and killed each other over issues that continue to plague us today.

I’m an educator and have spent my career in the service sector. My husband has spent his entire career as a businessman. I love teaching and the community service work I have done and do, but I count myself lucky to have fallen in love with someone who could show me a different perspective. I’ve studied and taught economics but being married to a businessman has helped me better understand the complexities of a sector I wasn’t previously connected to. My husband gets to hear from me about the education and service segments of our nation. Ideally, we will always appreciate the insights and awareness each of us brings to the relationship and use our diverse experiences to make wiser decisions and produce more intelligent opinions. And often (not always unfortunately) that is just what happens.

There’s a myth out there that we can’t talk about politics or religion in polite company. We’re just too different and can’t agree. It’s true that our pride, egos, and lack of self-control can really derail a conversation and ruin a dinner party. But if we don’t communicate, we’ll never understand those with different life experiences and concerns. We’ll never see the whole picture and we’ll be stuck with our limited vision, unable to let in the light of knowledge and empathy, unable to courageously explore new ideas and adapt to an ever-changing world.

Another myth is that it’s weak and wishy-washy to change our minds or consider compromise. If we believe it’s weak to admit uncertainty or seek balanced solutions, we certainly won’t listen to anyone who challenges our self-declared righteousness, especially if they’re from a group or political party we’ve been told is inferior and trying to ruin our country. We cover ourselves with a shield of defensiveness and pride and attack those who disagree with us. Just as detrimental can be hiding behind a shield of shame and denial, afraid to challenge lies and injustice.

Tolerating uncertainty, listening to different perspectives, and striving for cooperative, win-win solutions isn’t just kind and nice; it’s productive, intelligent, and wise. Imagine if we tried not to impose our views on others and not to conform to the demands of others. Instead, we shared our thoughts freely and respectfully, without fear or manipulation, and listened to the stories of others with open minds and open hearts. That behavior could result in genuine dialogue that focused on solving problems and finding answers that unify, not divide us.

If we want to fly, we need our right wing, our left wing, and everything in between working together. We can trade in our shields of defensiveness and denial and pick up the shield of love and compassion. That takes courage and effort.

My husband and I may be labeled differently when we go to vote, but we, like most Democrats and Republicans, have so much in common. Both of us support equal rights, affordable health care for all, clean water and air, parks and wilderness areas, freedom from unnecessary regulations, sensible gun laws, responsible fiscal policies, child protection, and the list goes on. We value generosity, honesty, hard work, conscientiousness, compassion and respect for others, and the list goes on.

There will always be conflict and struggle because we’re humans who have different needs, experiences, and personalities. We’re not always logical or rational and we get emotional about issues that matter deeply to us. But we don’t have to be enemies, and we don’t have to listen to people who try to convince us that we are. We can dare to fly using both our wings.

2 thoughts on “Left Wing Loves Right Wing

  1. Happy New Year! You’re the kind of Democrat who should run for office! I am also in a “mixed marriage” but like you and Roger don’t feel the animosity as much as my Democrat friends. So I truly appreciated this blog post and have enjoyed reading all your other blog posts, which are so wise and articulate. I miss being with you in person and our conversations. I was just mentioning you to Marcus and suggesting that when it’s safe, we travel West to see you & Roger and enjoy the beauty of SD. And of course y’all are welcome to come visit us in NC!

    All is well. My mother in Los Angeles is healthy; she just got her first Covid vaccine. My cancer is still abated for now, and though I’m at that stage of looking over my shoulder wondering when it will come back, I’m doing well.

    Our greatest sadness is losing our beloved Boxer, Kruger. He was my everything (yes, Marcus was very kind to often be #2!). He inspired a lot of my original music. I wrote one last song for him and am finalizing that now.

    How are your daughters? The one in NYC? (Please attribute my forgetfuless to chemo brain!)

    Wishing you and Roger continued good health and happy hiking!

    Hugs Claudia

    On Sun, Jan 10, 2021 at 1:27 PM Choose Forgiveness wrote:

    > Christy Heacock posted: ” What if I told you the left wing and the right > wing belong to the same bird? – Author Unknown My husband and I have been > married 38 years. My husband is a Republican who is quite content being p” >

    Like

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Claudia! Miss you too! We’d love to have you come visit and we’re looking forward to being able to travel.

    So glad your cancer has abated and that your mother is well. Your music and your service work are so inspiring, as is the awesome attitude you’ve had toward your illness. I’ll look forward to hearing your last song for Kruger. It’s so hard to lose our beloved pets.

    Our daughters are fine, but on opposite ends of the country – NYC and Los Angeles. We’ve zoomed with family, but it will be great when we are finally able to get together in person.

    Sending hugs and good wishes to you and Marcus,
    Chris

    Like

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