In last week’s “Parson to Person” I wrote about my visit with my family in the Seattle area, and how we “overcame” political disputes with games and small talk. There was one part of my trip, however, that I didn’t have time to share. So here it is.
After I was dropped off at the airport (following my visit with my family), I discovered that my cellphone (which I thought I had recharged the night before) didn’t work. It was getting late, and I wanted Craig to know I was on my way before he went to bed. But what could I do? (Did you know that most airports no longer have pay phones?) Here I was, sitting in a sea of other travelers–most of them playing games or checking emails on their smartphones–with no working smartphone of my own.
It took a while, but I gathered up my courage, stood up, and said loudly (through my mask): “If anyone here has a cell phone I could use for a few minutes to call Wisconsin, I’d appre–” But before I could finish my sentence (or explain that my phone had died), a woman in the row in front of me held up her phone and said, “Here you go, honey–we’ve all been there.” I thanked her profusely and made my call, after which she and her husband made our hour-long wait before boarding much more fun that it would otherwise would have been. Before they boarded they gave me their cards, and I gave them mine. From the cards they gave me, I’m pretty sure our politics were not similar. (The man’s card listed his organization–“Patriot Guard Riders”–and the back read “NRA Life of Duty–Last Defense.” He also freely admitted that he’d been kicked off Facebook 28 times. So, probably not a liberal!) But I also knew his wife runs a thrift store that gives away free clothing, shoes, and coats to people in need. (Her card gave the info for “Anniebugs Attic” in Portland, Oregon.) I’ll tell you, it was a bit of surprise to see all of this wrapped up in one couple. But you know what? I kind of like surprises!
My point? There are people out there who are kind and generous, who do not vote the way I do. Yet I can affirm their “inherent worth and dignity” (as our first UU principle puts it)–and maybe even see something in them that I didn’t expect to see. (After all, our word “respect” comes from “re” [meaning “again”] and “spect” [meaning to “look” or “see”–as in “spectator,” “spectacles,” and “inspection”]). Literally, respect means to look again. And sometimes when you do that, you see things you didn’t ex-pect. (From “ex,” meaning “out,” plus “see.” And yes, aspect and prospect are also related–but stop me, please!)
I will still vote the way I vote, and they will too, I’m sure. We didn’t even try to change any minds. But something in me was warmed by the (continuing) revelation that people can have values that are very different in one way, and very similar in another. Somehow, that encounter gave me just the tiniest bit of hope for the future.
May you too be warmed by surprises revealed, expectations overturned, and respect cropping up because you decided to look, look, and look again.
peace and unrest,