10 October, 2008

multi-partisan families? I'd like to hear from you

Bi-partisan and multi-partisan families, I want to hear from you!

I vote on a regular basis, even in primaries, and I like to follow politics and issues on a fairly regular basis, but I don't like to write political posts and I'll tell you why:

~ I am an idealist and no party offers very much of what I long for

read: Jesus was neither a republican nor a democrat

~ I am a life-long learner and student of history

~ Politics, parties, and people get painted with too broad a brush far too often, and a lack of human compassion follows shortly thereafter.

~ When the discussion devolves into name calling (and you can see/hear it from all sides) I shut it off and out, because purpose and plain facts and voting records are being ignored.

~ I live in a large, bipartisan...actually more like a multi-partisan family. I rather thrive on the things and ideals that unite instead of the things that divide us. I also love hearing the good points from all sides of a discussion or issue. I will not shut someone off if they don't agree with me on an issue. I like to hear reasoned, calm discussion. I believe in the ability of people to agree to disagree while still maintaining a friendship. The problem is, very few people are actually taught how to pull this off without becoming angry, offended, judgmental, and etc.

~ My studies (which will forever be unfinished, but not unfocused) of history, religions, denominations, languages, literature, art, classics, philosophies of education, even practical trades can all be categorized under anthropology. I have come to think that perhaps this has muddied the political waters for me. This does make it much easier to vote for each person on an individual basis instead of along party lines, but it makes my job to research all the candidates more important (and more time-consuming) than if I simply vote along party lines and platforms.

~ writing about this open-mindedness...being an independent thinker and sometimes undecided voter, or whatever *you* may call it, could add a wedge in relationships with either friends or family.

~Terminology is loaded on all sides. Folks define words differently and claim a word or ideal as their own party's "pet" project or platform.

There are other reasons, but I think this list is reflective enough of what I'm trying to say.

My point for this post? I want to hear from people living in bipartisan and multipartisan families about what makes your family work. I don't even know if there are that many in my networks...I guess I will find out (I hope...people tend to be very shy and skittish about this, if it exists in their homes). If my regular readers know of family or friends who would qualify, please send them my way. If I don't hear from anyone, then I just have not been able to find the audience, yet. I did a google search and literally came up with just two or three sites with similar topics. Not a large audience.

So I will try word-of-mouth of my friends and readers. I would love to stir up some support! Tell me (if you don't mind being open about it) about your bipartisan or multipartisan family...the positive things that come out of your relationships and differing thoughts and opinions on politics and beliefs. I could tell you some of the ways our family discusses and juggles, or chooses to keep part of the discussion simple, so as not to overwhelm the younger ones in the family, or those who don't like controversy at all.

But today, this weekend, I'd like to hear from others on their successes.

(an aside: Yes, those who don't like controversy need to learn how to handle it, but we don't want to provoke the wrong things. We have learned the need to take a gentle, more subtle approach most of the time, or we will end up frustrating those and planting quite different seeds than we would like).

I love my family and extended family, have learned so much and been so pleasantly surprised many times in these open discussions. It is all very fascinating (and only sometimes a little tense).

My final thought: A mountain has many sides, angles, inclines, valleys and hidden caves and trails. We cannot really know the mountain by observing it from only one vantage point or from a flat picture. I think Charlotte Mason said something similar to this thought in Volume three...I will have to dig that up...




Anonymous said...

I'm posting a comment I received in an e-mail (Javamom):

"Wow, I have to agree with all that you have said about politics. It is true of our faith convictions as well. We need to live in the grace that is able to love and communicate openly and graciously with those who are very different from ourselves. We have some widely differing opinions in our immediate family, and discuss animatedly, and love each other intensely. It isn't so easy with extended family. You are very blessed if your experience is different."

Donna-Jean said...

With extended family, we find that sort of Venn diagram and live in the common circle. At times, we step into their portion of those circles - and seek to compliment where we can ("That's so cool you got called by the campaign to do some work for them!"), show our connection to what's going on ("I'm praying for Senator ________, his wife _______, and kids ________, as well as for the running mate...by name." When I know their names and pray for them, that diffuses some of what could be unpleasant.

And honestly - if we are each pretty set in whom/what we support, there's not a whole lot of point in discussing it. There are many other things in this world to talk about when we're together :-)

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

I'm a libertarian, my husband is a committed Republican, my mother is an independent. We can discuss things together without offense.
Extended family members are Democrats or members of the Green party. The way we handle differences there to keep the peace in the family is that they get to say whatever they want, they send us campaign literature and talking points (including Move-on emails), and we do not disagree, object, or engage in discussion in any way, shape, or form- other than to smile and listen. No alternative point of view is welcome, no matter how mildly expressed, so we don't speak. The best we can do is smile and change the subject some dozen times in an hour.

They do not read my blog, don't even know it exists, so I often use it as a place to say all the pent-up things I have been holding back.

Javamom said...

Thank you for your input, ladies!

My cousin shared the first comment. Dhe and her family had been living in Romania for about 13 or 14 years before recently moving to London. Her input stems from being an MK (educated in Australia) and now a missionary herself; an "expatriate."

Donna-Jean, I'm with you that there are so many other and better things to talk about. Frankly, I will be glad to have this election behind us, but that doesn't mean that I'll stop praying for our leaders, though, that's for sure! Those are wise words.

I am becoming more of a Libertarian, myself, DHM. My hubby votes Democrat pretty often. He is an independent. Our oldest son is a registered Democrat, is good at using logic, but when things get heated, he is still learning how to keep his emotions in check.

Many of my brothers, sister, and their families are totally committed (and some of them gun-toting ;-) Republicans.

jonathan. said...

I'm still in the "unable to peaceably discuss ANYTHING" phase of growing up. Knowing that puts me in an odd place because I wasn't always this way. But were I to sit down with a member of my extended family, I wouldn't be able to say anything without getting angry, calling them names, or thinking they were fully and completely devoid of intellect.

Which, again, puts me in an odd place. I know it's wrong and ridiculous, but it's where I am right now. I'll just quietly tend to my own things, I suppose, and avoid the discussion of issues, until I learn to do so with a modicum of respect for my fellow thinkers.

Living and learning, much? :)

Javamom said...

My son, you are a gem. You know you are in that odd place at this time, and that is good! It's also very normal. You are more vocal than I was a t your age, but I still felt odd after seeing the world through other people's eyes.

Hang in there. You will settle in and your judgement will mature. I believe you are on the right track, or very near it at least, Ha!!

I love and miss you, but also know that you are where you are supposed to be at this time and season of your life. I'm glad that your Ashlynn gets to come see us so we can love on her each week!

ashlynn said...

............................. :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :).