He's a nice man, but at the moment, I didn't want to stop for a long chat-I wanted food! Oh wait, he's turning to walk inside, so he may not even be there when I walk by his patio to the building's door. But, just then, my baby spontaneously squealed. My neighbor looked back at us, a big smile covering his face as he walked back to the patio so he could talk with us.
It's okay. Lunch can wait. I think I need to talk with him.
We made small talk, and my neighbor--an older man, who does not have any children of his own--gleefully smiled and talked with Peter, delighting in my cheerful baby. Then, at one point, the man made a comment about "We'll have to see how this experiment goes."
Oh. "I'm assuming you're talking about the political experiment that this country is going through?" I asked. He replied in the affirmative, and just like that, we began talking politics.
I do not often talk politics with other people. At all. Doesn't happen. This election pushed me to blog about politics a few times, but I try so hard to stay away from political discussions with people other than my husband or a few of my relatives. But, I stood there for at least half an hour, talking politics with this neighbor, a man who identifies as a Liberal Democrat (a political label that I do not identify with).
And do you know what? We had an awesome conversation.
While I'm sure we disagree on a myriad of issues, we didn't have to talk about those. Instead, I listened to him pour out the frustrations he experienced watching the election alone last night. We talked about the need for good leadership in our country. We discussed education and job training. We talked about dangerous ideologies that are sweeping our culture, like entitlement. We groaned over overly-sensationalized news sources. And, in all of this, we built a bridge of community and fellowship. At some point, my baby fell asleep, so I explained that I had to go put Peter down for a nap. My neighbor thanked me for talking with him, and turned to walk inside. But, he stopped himself and said,
I need to tell you: I feel better after talking with you than I did before. Thank you.Moments later, as I tucked my sweet baby in bed, I thought about this more. When I woke up this morning, I soon jumped onto social media and news websites as I read about the election. While this is good, it does not substitute for actual human interaction. The man that I came across, my neighbor, was all alone. He lives alone, is a liberal Democrat in a fairly red state, and doesn't have many people around him who he can talk or relate to. But talking with me-and finding common ground that we could discuss and agree on-made his day better and helped him muddle through this day.
Across social media, a big question that I've seen people dealing with is: "What now?" How do we as a country, and we as individuals, move forward from the presidential election of 2016? Learning from my conversation earlier, here's my response to this question.
We need to get away from the political posts and division online. We need to build bridges of trust and respect with other people in our neighborhoods and communities. We need to listen to each other, truly listen and try to see how-and why-other people hold the views that they do. And we need to work together to uphold the dignity of all people.Go out there and bring the light of Christ into your community! Really, go. Get away from your computers and phones, and talk with the people in the streets, in the coffee shops, in the stores, in your neighborhoods. And together, we can create a culture of love, respect, and compassion.