How To Reach Family And Friends Across The Political Divide

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family having dinner
Self

In a politically divided time, the love that unites you and your spouse, family, friends, and all those dear to you, has taken a hit. How do you reach them across the political divide?

Defied by the feebleness of indifference and hate, both of which build nothing, destroy everything, and divide everyone, you can see the universal unifying power of love in the 13.8 billion years of holding the universe together.

Within the universe, love’s power inspires cosmic differences, lethal to you and me, to unite, work together, and become something more than the destructive difference between up and down, black and white, or right and left.

RELATED: Politics Can Tear Your Marriage Apart — What To Do When You’re On The Brink Of Divorce

How do you reach someone across the political divide?

Even as the universe undergoes internal divisions, love recombines the divided into galaxies, solar systems, planet Earth, and all its biological life, including you, me, and all of humanity, and guides all in their journey of learning how to work together. 

Throughout the life of the universe, love has begotten learning how to love more.

Standing at the crossroads of love, hate, and indifference, all eyes are on us to see if we'll figure out how to work together and build a better love or if we'll squander the eons of love that have gone into our emergence. 

Unlearning love: political divisiveness.

Before something can be divided, it has to be united.

Before we can be taught indifference or hate, the eons of love within us have to be unlearned, and the joy of love eclipsed by the afflictions of malevolence.

Ironically, the depth of universal love makes it easy to take for granted. After all, how many times have you reached out to embrace your spouse, partner, child, friend, or teammate without even thinking about it? 

However simple the act of opening your arms, your heart, and your mind to embrace another is, you might sometimes forget how important and powerful it is.

Fortunately, your newborn child will remind you of the unifying, empathetic power of that simple act. 

Forgetting is one thing, but when indifference and hate are the daily curricula, love’s most important lesson — learning how to strive together — goes unlearned.

Rather than combining our differences to become something more, we become isolated strangers and divided enemies.

The synergy of love teaches us that it's because of our differences, that working together makes us a unity greater than the sum of our differences.

Learning how to love is the only antidote to the learned divisiveness of indifference and hate. The burden of learning is on us as we strive to keep love’s united winning streak alive. 

Beliefs hold our lives together, influence how we live, and spare us from drowning in the maddening realization that our existence is but a drop in the vast ocean of time.

Beliefs assuage our distress from the mortifying awareness that for eons, our universe was happening without us and nobody missed us, and, after we are gone, the universe will continue without us. 

Beliefs are knowledge and thus power. Beliefs comfort us from the frustration of not knowing the sensual pleasures of imagined events (e.g., the beginning of the universe) that are beyond the reach of our senses.

Sometimes, the knowledge associated with our beliefs is derived by rigorous scientific investigative methods. Other times, we accept beliefs at face value because they are taught to us by people we revere — parents, educators, peers, or celebrities).

Nonetheless, with or without evidence, and lacking sensual experiences, our convictions, political and otherwise, make us certain that our beliefs are true. Even if proven inaccurate, we hold on to our beliefs rather than let go and risk having our lives fall apart.

The strength of our convictions makes it painful for us to acknowledge the possibility that our beliefs could be wrong.

Yet, this doesn't mean we should abandon our beliefs but rather develop a respect for the uniting power of our beliefs and the beliefs of others, and thereby cultivate a belief in the unity of humanity. 

RELATED: Why Talking Politics With Oppositional Family Members Is A Bad Idea

Bridging the political divide

Believe in love.

On the battlefield of life, love is pitted against hate and indifference. If we are to learn how to be united rather than divided, then life demands we act heroically.

This holiday season is a good time to believe in love and perform heroic acts that heal and restore the joy of unity as a couple, a family, or friends.

Belief in love cultivates a taste for the delicious sweetness of working together and becoming something more than just a meaningless drop in the ocean of time.

Believe in dance.

Do you too feel the strain of these hard times; the feeling that you and all your loved ones are being torn apart? If so, Alice Walker has some advice for you, and all of us: "Hard times require furious dancing."

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Dance not only brings you, your partner, and music together, but teaches all how to work together and join in the big dance of the past 13.8 billion years. 

The waltz of planets, the ballet of wind, trees, and birds, and the rave of ocean waves; the healing power of dance is everywhere, including within you. Undeniably, by the beat of your heart and the music in your soul, it's your nature to dance. 

Even in a big city, where indifference and hate frequently rear their ugly heads, it always amazes me how the city’s summer dance festival draws couples, families, and people of all ages together — the joy of dancing brings out the best of everyone.

Some of my fondest holiday memories are the times my brothers and I would dance with our mother, sisters, cousins, and guests. So push the furniture and political divide out of the way and do not let feeling foolish stop you.

Take Nietzsche’s advice: Better to dance awkwardly and experience its unifying joy, then walk lamely, burdened by the discord of divisiveness. 

Believe in night talk.

Holiday gatherings are the perfect time for "firelit" (fireplace or candles) hours of healing social interactions.

Huddling together, as our ancestors once did, and telling stories or singing in the intimate space carved out by the light of the fire brings you and your loved ones closer together, heals the wounds caused by social rifts, and restores cohesion to the unity of you and those you love. 

Listening to stories of "our first holiday together (as a couple, family, or friends)," "fond memories of holidays past," or "how we fell in love" steer us away from the toxic tensions arcing across the political divide.

Stories of love put you and your loved ones on a similar emotional wavelength. They open minds and hearts to a different, better, and more accurate understanding of the thoughts and emotions of all gathered with you. 

Give it a shot. Send out your holiday invitations with instructions to show up ready to dance, give a holiday reading (like "Christmas Day in the Morning"), tell a story, sing a song, play a musical instrument, or recite a poem and rediscover the joy of unity and love. 

RELATED: How Political Differences Can Affect Your Relationship

Stephen J. Almada, Ed.D. Health Psychologist and author of Exercise, Life, & Love: The Making of a Sedentary Society. For more information, visit his website.