Futurist and Science Fiction author, David Brin, states the United States is in their third Civil War. There's nothing "civil" about the political divide currently in the United States. I know far too many people who've lost friends, even family over the difference of a single opinion.
I've lost two family members, so far.
Cousin V went from a moderate to a neo-con with the turn of the 2008
election. I knew her physicist husband voted for Obama. We had pretty
honest discussions about politics. He said he was going to since he'd
done his research and noted that Democrats restore the economy and
reduce the deficit where Republicans do not. We definitely needed some
recovery badly in 2008.
That's when the emails started.
Understand V has a Masters degree in Accounting and she knows the value
of research. She obviously didn't do any when the emails agreed with her
I snopes pretty much everything that comes in my email. I sent her corrections, which she ignored.
as she felt free to fill my inbox with her prejudices, I sent something
to her regarding a statement of Glen Beck's which I disagreed with.
Her response: "You are too liberal to be friends with anymore."
Friends? We were family before that.
her husband, who was quite ill at the time with brain lesions,
understood my reasoning precisely and said that he and I could continue
talking via another email. So, I continued to send emails to him, but
never got an answer. He wondered why I wasn't corresponding. I advised
him that I was. When I asked if V had access to the emails, he said
I continued to send get well cards to him, a couple a
month, and I sent a sympathy card when he passed. I hope he got the
cards. I spent time and money trying to make sure he knew someone cared
about him and was hoping the best. I never knew whether she gave them to
him or not. That's on her. I tried. V. never contacted me except once
She sent a completely fictitious email about President
Obama. I didn't bother to Snopes it. At that point, I figured I was off
her list anyway. Then, someone else on the list did fact-check and sent
the correct information via REPLY ALL.
Her response: "I guess I wanted it to be true so I didn't bother to look it up...."
I knew Uncle H was a racist since I was six or seven. I remember a long
ride back from my grandparents with him and my Mom back in the Sixties
where he ranted about Dr. Martin Luther King and H. Rap Brown and wished
both of them would get shot. He used language my mom said I should
never use, but she never corrected her little brother and when I asked
she said, "He's a grown man, honey, I'm not going to change him...You
I don't remember exchanging more than
cursory conversation with the man. He talked to my Mom. If I answered
the phone, he'd ask for her and I'd get her. He was busy and I got the
feeling he didn't want to deal with someone else's kid, even if it was a
The emails started shortly after the election. I'm not
sure how Uncle H even got my email. I can't say I'd send a thank you
note to whoever provided it.
I snopesed and sent him the
correct information. For that matter, I even tried to engage him in
conversation asking how his family was, etc. He never replied. He just
kept filling my email with stuff he hadn't bothered to research which --
from my sampling--was lies.
I finally emailed and said, "Look,
if you want to talk about your family, about your experiences, etc., I'd
be glad to listen. I'm not interested in politics, particularly if you
are not going to do any kind of research..."
Half a dozen emails of the same ilk as before the next day. I set his email on "JUNK" and walked away.
It disturbed my Aunt J (his younger sister) that I'd done this. I advised her, he wasn't sending anything personal to me.
my baby brother and he's just always been kind of a brat," she said. I
wondered then if his older sisters had called him on it if he'd have
been so much of a brat. I don't know. I could have asked Mom that or
just about anything, but Aunt J was not in a state I could do that.
he'd even written, just forwarding garbage. Still it made her cry and I
felt sorry I'd admitted it. I did check the email at that time. Same
old junk. Sadly, he sent the same email to me at least three times in
some instances. I was just on a SPAM list.
3. Cousin G is
someone I admire very much. Okay, maybe not her research skills or her
paranoia, but she walks the walk of her faith. She's served as a church
organist, a Hospice Chaplain, and volunteer and done more work to help
the needy than many folks I know.
The same emails started after the election. Heck, she even started her Christmas cards with:
"I'm disappointed in the election...."
she believes every wrong word she hears about President Obama and the
government. Sadly, she's let racist language slip, too.
difference is, she actually reads the research I do and thanks me for
part of it. We're still friends and I think occasionally what I say to
her makes a difference. She actually asks me questions sometimes and I
do my best to research them and show her my work so she knows that I
actually am not just spouting an unfounded opinion.
And -- I
have told her what my Mom thought about a lot of issues. She always
respected Mom as a well-educated and a thinking person and when she
hears what Mom used to say to me back -- fifty plus years ago growing up
some of her anger goes away.
Yeah, I hate that we're dealing
with the same issues and the same racism and hatred we dealt with when I
was growing up. I have my Mom to thank for me growing up as a thinking
person who does their research and believes in equality and justice.
one difference between Mom and me is that I am speaking out to my
elders--her peer group--and saying what I think. Uppity, I suppose so,
but do we change the world by being silent? Sometimes we have to do it
by presenting facts and not allowing people to just be "bratty" or
R. M. Kyle, May 2015