by: Kalea Martín
My parents are kind, loving, and the most generous people I know. I strive to live up to their example in many ways, but politically speaking, the apple falls very far from the tree—far to the left. To my right-winged parents, I’m just a tree-hugging liberal who’s been brainwashed by CNN. We don’t see eye to eye on major political principles, and it gets very frustrating for all of us.
This conundrum, largely escalated by the election of Donald Trump, is one that many Americans are now facing. The ideological divide in our country has never been wider and harder to ignore. That’s why it’s more important than ever–especially if we want to proactively move forward as a society–to find a balance between firmly upholding our own convictions and being tolerant of those held by others.
I was devastated that my parents voted Republican in the 2016 election. The only way I could reason with their decision and work on convincing them otherwise was by first understanding where their views came from and realizing that mine had been shaped in a similar context: I attended a private school in Arizona where the overwhelming majority of my peers and teachers were Republican. I grew up in the church, and being surrounded by white conservatives was my norm. I never thought twice about the political stance my parents projected upon me, or ever questioned the values I was brought up with because I was never confronted with opposing views. I would just regurgitate things I overheard like, “Obama is the anti-christ” and “No, I don’t support gay rights” even though one of my best friends was the President of the GSA club. Every time I would repeat these ignorant things, my heart would sink to my stomach because it just felt off, and now I realize why. Some people haven’t had the chance to, though.
All the pieces started to come together for me when I left that bubble and was able to educate myself. Through attending a liberal arts college on the opposite side of the country and of the political spectrum, my perspective grew because I had the space to reevaluate my
Political division within family means it’s easier for tensions to rise, but it also means it’s easier to become informed about both sides because you have don’t have to tiptoe so carefully around proper decorum. Heated arguments and back-and-forth convincing won’t change minds overnight, but it’s not for nothing.
It might seem easier to dodge political arguments altogether for the sake of maintaining familial peace, but by exercising complacency you become part of the problem. The people we love, who we know firsthand to be genuinely good-hearted with good intentions, are the best people to reason with. I know my parents and I will butt heads about our politics for the foreseeable future, but I also know that standing up for what I believe in is worth it. We may never fully find common ground but I’d rather try and fail than not try at all.