Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Next Week on Seinfeld: The Unfriend

Have you ever witnessed a child handle a dispute? As a parent, have you ever removed yourself from a situation and just observed your children, with each other or with friends, solve a problem themselves? If you have not, I would encourage you to give it a try. The next time you feel you need to interfere with all your mom (or dad!) power, and break up a potential disaster, sit back and watch it unfold. It might surprise you!

Now, allow me to digress for a moment.

Maybe I'm too vocal. Maybe I'm too trusting. Maybe I believe far too much in the power of people's intelligence and abilities to see varying opinions and multiple sides of a story, but I have been the victim of the most powerful, most poignant, yet most passive aggressive diss this new generation has to offer, more times than I can count. This generation doesn't know about "diss." ;-)

I have been unfriended.


There are times I stumble upon it and I am pretty certain it wasn't personal. Someone I hardly talked with anyway, just cleaning up their friends list. I get it. But a vast majority of the time, it is because we have a difference of opinion.

I have even had someone once admit to me that their opinions of people change when they find out they disagree on a particularly passionate topic. What? Am I the only person who doesn't really understand that?

An article was recently released about how Tim McGraw will be losing fans because he has stepped out and shown his support for President Obama, and that's just a big country music no no among his more conservative peers. That is weird to me. Why would I suddenly stop supporting him as a musician just because we have a difference in political opinion? Is he less of an artist? Is he less of a husband? Is he less of a father? The latter two, of course, being things I don't know about him for sure, but have reason to believe that he's a pretty stand up guy.

I recently went to listen to Magic Johnson, an avid Obama supporter, speak at a local university. Does his support of a president I don't necessarily agree with make him less of a basketball legend? Am I less impressed by him as an individual? As a business man? No, this stuff all seems like nonsense to me.

And these are the things by which I am constantly judged by my peers. I am accused of not having an open mind, while my friends with different opinions than mine are deleting me left and right. I for one, am interested in human beings and their humanness, not the color of their skin, not their looks, not their opinions, but who they are. I deeply enjoy finding common ground, a common respect, or an understanding with some of the most unlikely people. Because, the truth is, no matter what our religious beliefs or political opinions, we are all people with people we love, with concerns for our futures, our families' futures. We don't have to constantly draw lines in the sand, or worse, burn bridges, with our friendships!

Back to the kids. I could write a book about all the lessons I've learned from my children, but watching them handle a disagreement is one of the most beautifully simple things I have ever witnessed. They do not always play in the same ways as others. They do not always want to do the same things as their friends, or even as each other. But they can vocalize that honestly, and then move on. It's like a miracle. Like huge "a-ha" moment miracle of epic friendship proportions. Wait. What? You mean it's ok to tell your friend, "I don't like that," "Don't do that," or "I don't want to do that right now," and then just go about your play like nothing happened? Do you mean to tell me that grudges aren't mandatory during these situations? What about the other friend, on the receiving end? She's just ok with that? Ok, maybe not always. Maybe sometimes, moms have to intervene to suggest a compromise. They are learning, after all, but I have witnessed my children come of an age that finally understands the meaning of a compromise, and turn taking, and sharing, and they resolve so many of these issues themselves, and then, get this, they still love each other and have a blast together! Truly miraculous.

At church a few weeks ago, I was speaking with my friend while our daughters played.
One to the other: I don't like that. Don't do that.
Other: Ok.
Then one suggested another idea that they do, and off they went, full of excitement!

I paused my conversation with my friend to ask her if she had just seen what I witnessed. We both laughed over the simplicity of it, and how that doesn't usually fly among adult friends. "Oh, you don't like that?" UNFRIEND! "Oh, you don't agree with me?" UNFRIEND! "That is not the way I would play that game." UNFRIEND! The ultimate diss. I imagine that a Seinfeld episode of today could do this small and brief story justice, don't you?

Life gets more complicated than games and toys and nicknames we may not like. That's for sure. But why do we insist on changing the simplicity of friendship? Hey, ya know what? I like you. No, wait, actually, I love you. I think you are an awesome human being. I think there is more to you than which way you vote. I think, in life and love, we probably have a lot in common, but we are allowed to be different. We're allowed to think differently. We're allowed to have problems. We're allowed to resolve them, and we're allowed, still, to disagree. But ya know what else? We're allowed to pick ourselves back up off the floor and have some fun together.

My dad always used to say to me, "People are like water. They seek their own level." If this stands true, then the level I seek is not the level of your political correctness or the level of your republican or democrat loyalties, or even the level of your sainthood. The level I wish to seek is the level of love...filled with cheese. Because who doesn't love that? :)

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