I see him out of the corner of my eye, stop drawing and move one of the pebbles from one side of the milk crate to the other. “Hi,” I say cheerfully, “you can go right in.” He smiles and says thanks, puts on his mask, and walks into the Co-op.
I know him, not his name, but the way you know people who live in the same small town. I’ve seen him get into this car at the post office and hardware store. The car patchworked with bumper stickers supporting Trump’s rhetoric, much of it maligning women.
His politics are more than just the opposite of my politics. It feels personal. But for the next hour it’s my job to keep track of how many people are going in and out of the Co-op, only five people allowed at a time.
I think of the Trump rally that’s going to take place on Main Street in our town on Saturday and I feel a flash of anger.
When Trump was elected president I told myself the one thing I would not do was be divisive. I was not going to join Trump’s campaign to further divide us.
But figuring out what how to do that while still speaking my truth has been an evolving task.
Sometimes it means avoiding talking politics completely. But it also means hanging a Black Lives Matter sign from the clothesline. It means making sure to keep good relationships with friends and acquaintances I know or believe might be Trump supporters. It means continuing to create art that affirms individuality and the importance of “Showing Your Soul” It means participating in #tinypricks. It means listening and not instigating when people do talk politics no matter what side they’re on and trying to rationally get my point across without it becoming an angry argument.
I have not always been successful, but I have tried to be mindful.
In small towns, you quickly learn not to have feuds with your neighbors. There’s a good chance you might need each other sometime. That’s when we see how much alike we really all are.
I don’t want to even drive by the Trump rally because I don’t want to see which of my neighbors will be there. And I know and believe they have as much a right to walk down Main Street with their signs as me and about 150 other people had the right to stand on the corner of Main Street supporting Black Lives Matter.
This is the divide. There is no room for nuance when the empty space between us is filled with anger.
“Have a nice day”, I say to the man as he comes out of the Co-op his empty canvas bag now filled. As I move the pebble back it almost feels as if we’ve achieved a heroic act of civility.
6 thoughts on “A Heroic Act Of Civility”
Maria, your post is so timely. I’ve come to the conclusion that just because someone supports Trump, doesn’t mean they are just like him. God help us all if that were true! I have neighbors who are die-hard Republicans who I will probably never agree with or understand. But they are good neighbors and decent people so it’s easy to be civil. And we don’t discuss politics. I wonder if we sometimes put ourselves into a box with a label and then feel we have to stay there either out of loyalty or because we don’t see anything better out there. Don’t know if that makes sense.
I think I’ve felt that way before Barbara, but the older I get the more I understand that things aren’t so simple. Thanks for sharing.
I noticed the comment about the Trump rally taking place in your town Saturday.
I would be interested in knowing how that goes out of curiosity on the politics of your area.
I only know what I’ve read in your and Jon’s blogs. If neither of you write about it,
is there another way I can locate a report from another source you are aware of?
It’s one of the parts of our country I have never spent much time in.
Thanks for anything you you may know.
As far as I know Keith, there isn’t much reporting going on in our town.
It is a challenge..
I was thinking the other day of creating a shirt that says..”Let’s Not let Politics keep us apart.”
Yet, the divide seems so big, I can only manage small steps.
And try not to let anger get in the way.
I think about monks and mystics..how they walk their truth and live a life somehow beyond this ..
I think there’s something to the small steps Janet.