Polarization doesn’t just effect politics, it also effects friendships.
Recently I’ve seen a lot of chatter on Facebook and Twitter about unfriending/unfollowing people who like Donald Trump. Many people I know have said “A fan of Trump is no friend of mine.” This disturbs me.
I dislike Trump. I would love it if he would stop opening his mouth and saying ridiculous things that make people worship him. And I’m fearful of the hatred his words have fueled. Targeting an entire religion and ethnic group with mistrust and fear is dangerous. Anyone remember WW2? It’s a cliche to compare people to Hitler, but there is a frightening historical similarity between the United States of today and Germany of the 1930’s. People are looking for a savior, someone to “make America great again.” It was the same in Germany in 1929.
Donald Trump and his followers scare me. However, I will not turn my back on a friend or acquaintance who admires him. I will not feed the polarization that threatens my country. Instead, I will try to understand why my friend likes Trump. I will try to engage in conversation, keep communication open, reach out and combat fear and stigma one connection at a time.
“But if you talk to that person, aren’t you supporting them, and in so doing, supporting Trump?” you ask.
No. I do not like, trust, admire or even consider Donald Trump a human being. He represents everything I loath in my country: ignorant wealth. But if I refuse to engage with someone who thinks Donald Trump is the greatest thing since frozen orange juice, how am I different from any extremist in America? Extremists cling to their own world view and hate what they don’t understand. I refuse to hate people.
Even Donald Trump.