- michelle m. davis
A Purple Party
If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~ Mother Teresa
Seriously… consider this quote from Mother Teresa. In essence, if we’re too busy criticizing those around us, be it our family, our friends, our acquaintances, or our enemies, how could we ever accept and love people for who they are? But what if we stopped judging everyone? If we refrained from putting our standards on others, could we then see them as their own individual beings? Would it be possible for us to love them despite our apparent differences?
Now, more than any time, we need a reason to come together instead of tear apart. Our country, while great in many ways, is experiencing incredible discord from within. I honestly don’t remember another time during my lifetime (at least when I was paying attention) that the American public has become so divided and angry. I get it… people are upset about political leaders, natural disasters, and social injustices. We each have an absolute right to our individual emotions and opinions. But what I do not understand is why good, kind people are expressing rage towards other good, kind people whose only crime is that they possess differing viewpoints. When did we lose our respect for one another? When did it become wrong to think contrarily to our tribe? After all, we tell our children to be considerate of those who aren’t like them? But are we truly modeling this behavior? Are we accepting and respecting family members, friends, and neighbors who may not agree with our philosophies? And, if we cannot embrace those close to us who deviate from our beliefs, how can we ever hope to find a common ground with those outside of our inner circles?
I admit it… I cringe when I see certain friends share negative Facebook posts. Regardless, I don’t like them any less… I just prefer not to be inundated with their hostility. Yet, everyone has the right to express his or her views, and if we don’t like it, we don’t have to read it or react to these individuals’ opinions. However, disagreeing with their perspectives does not give us the right to hate them on the basis that what they proclaim does not fit in within our belief system. And, maybe, just maybe, if we wouldn’t be so reactive to those views that are opposite to ours, perhaps we might grow in our own outlook. In no way does this mean that we should alter our stance on various issues. Rather, the point is to understand that it’s okay that some people think differently than we do and then to not judge them as good or bad, but to accept them for whom they are, beautiful human beings who may have another take on life. Sounds simple, right? But it’s not. Our emotions, pride, and ego often get in the way.
Many years ago, I was at a friend’s house for dinner on the night of a presidential election. At the time, I was a George Bush supporter. And, from my naïve perspective, I never considered that my friend wasn’t. Yet when my comments reached a certain level, she let me know, in a respectful way, that she did not want Bush, rather, she liked Al Gore. What I remember feeling was not anything negative about my friend. Instead, I was mortified that I made the assumption that she thought as I did. I mean, we were best friends, so why would we have different political viewpoints? It was then that I began to realize that we can know others extremely well but might not be aware of all of their beliefs. Why had I not considered that she would think differently than I did? Just because we were best friends, in no way should that mean that our outlooks on everything should have been similar. Again, I was young, stupid, and unwisely thought that those close to me held my exact viewpoints.
Now, after many years and multiple elections later, I’ve come to look at things differently. What if instead of polarizing from one another, expecting those around us to mimic our beliefs, if we became a “Nation of Purple”?
I first heard this term on an Oprah podcast when she was interviewing her longtime friend, Maria Shriver. I was incredibly surprised to learn that both women recently left the Democratic Party and became Independents. They coined the term, a “Purple” nation as a way to combine the best of both the Red and the Blue views. When I heard this I became fascinated with this concept because it spoke to me… hit me exactly where I was. I no longer resonated with the Republican Party, nor did I feel compelled to become a Democrat. I am somewhere in between. I am purple. And, if two prominent liberal women like Oprah and Maria can “join the Purple Party,” acknowledging that their former affiliation no longer served them, why wouldn’t I want to jump on board? I mean, what if we could combine the best of both views? What if we could listen… talk… compromise? If we could all put our egos aside and engage in this type of conversation, would it be possible for us to find solutions to what ails all of us? Aren’t we more similar than different? I truly believe that the majority of us have the same intrinsic values. It’s just that we get hung up on the particulars. So if we could possibly take a step back, release the strong hold that we desperately cling to and put our pride aside, might we actually find a better way? Could Purple be the color of prosperity and promise?
If America is going to become the nation that we all know it can be, we must accept that its citizens have the freedom to express their own beliefs. And, while we might not agree with each other’s opinions, in order for us to become the strong country that we are capable of being, we must agree to disagree. After all, what makes the United States so special is that its citizens have the ability to express their opinions, something I’ve always taken for granted. And, if we all possess this privilege to say and believe what we wish, then it is imperative that we allow others the same right. When we start categorizing one another as Red or Blue, we go down the rabbit hole of stereotyping, and we lose our ability to appreciate each other for who we truly are… individual beings with unique minds and thoughts. While we do not need to agree with others’ points of view, if we want to move forward as a country, we need to have tolerance; we must not constantly judge and label one another good or bad. If we can see the purplein the people around us, then we have a much better chance of reaching our collective goals. And, if we stopped the judging, perhaps we’d feel more love.