There is an adage that family and friends should never discuss politics and religion. The reason for this saying is that both politics and religion bring strong feelings to the surface. Many relations are destroyed by anger and hate that explodes, particularly this year. I have never seen so much anger and hatred in our nation as I have witnessed toward President Donald Trump and his supporters. There is most likely strong negative feelings on both sides of the political divide, but the negativity seems to be boiling over on the liberal side.
Different political beliefs recently caused a big problem between a man and his father, and the turmoil went viral. Writer Leo Guinan became angry when he saw a Trump sign in his parent’s yard, so he sent a text message to them. He was so angry that his hands were shaking, and tears were in his eyes. This is what he wrote:
Due to the signs in the yard, the kids and I will not be down. The current occupant of the White House is preaching hate and violence, endangering the lives and safety of many of my friends. This is not acceptable to me at all. There is a complete disregard for women, minorities, science, ethics, and morality. Please consider if you support Trump that much. Because I hate him that much. I wanted to be upfront and honest about my feelings.
My heart hurt for Guinan’s father and mother because I feel certain that they love him and his children and want to see them. I also felt some empathy for Guinan’s parents because my children have different political views than I do. They tell me about their feelings for Donald Trump and how they can never vote for him. At the same time, they know that I am passionate about the Constitution and the American way of life. They know that I am concerned about socialism creeping into our nation. They know my fears that a Joe Biden presidency will send us further down the slippery slope towards socialism and ultimately to communism. They know that I do not understand their negative feelings towards Trump. Yet, they still love me!
They know my political views – and I know their political views – because we discuss them. Even though I would like my children to share my views and support me in them, I understand that they have agency to make their own decisions. I pray for them that they will not go off the deep end in political fervor, and I have found a few blessings in having children with opposing views.
One of those blessings is the opportunity to have a different perspective. I recognize that I have strong feelings about people who think differently than I do, and I know that I could become hateful in my opinions. However, I temper my feelings because some of those people are my children. Instead of thinking that all Democrats are either crazy (like Maxine Waters) or evil (like Nancy Pelosi), I remember that my children are intelligent, wise, and compassionate adults and good citizens of the nation. Just knowing my children as I do, I can look at the average Democrat in a different light.
My children and I can discuss our political views without anger and hate because we all recognize that our relationships are more important than our political views. I do not force my views on them, and they do not force their views on me. We are fortunate to belong to a church – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – that teaches the importance of family relationships. I and my children believe that families can be together forever, and we strive to be worthy of that eternal blessing. We also believe that eternal relationships should be developed on this side of the veil as well as on the other.
As I thought about what I could write on this topic, I remembered a talk that was given by President Thomas S. Monson in the October 2008 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ. He spoke on the topic “Finding Joy in the Journey.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley died eight months before that conference, and President Monson was ordained and later sustained as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator in the April 2020 General Conference. He reminisced about the 45 years that had passed since he was ordained as an Apostle. He also spoke of the sixty years that he had been married to his wife and how his grandchildren were mostly grown with children of their own.
Day by day, minute by minute, second by second, we went from where we were to where we are now. The lives of all of us, of course, go through similar alternations and changes. The difference between the changes in my life and the changes in yours is only in the details. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on, and with the marching come the changes.
This is our one and only chance at mortal life – here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey – now….
Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important – and what is most important almost always involves the people around us….
… Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.
President Monson offered many other nuggets of counsel, but only one of them stands out in my mind. I remembered only one sentence from this talk, but it has had great influence on my life. I often remember his statement, “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.” It has been a great influence on me on numerous occasions.
I wonder what Leo Guinan would have done if he had remembered that his relationship with his parents was more important than any presidential election. I think that he would have refrained from sending that text to his parents. To his credit, he did apologize to his parents and tried to heal the relationship. However, he can never take back the hurt that he inflicted on his parents and the pain that will always be in his heart.
There is a little over one month until the November 2020 presidential election. With the passing of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the political racket will become even more heated and hateful with the nomination and confirmation process of a new justice. I hope that we will all remember that relationships with our friends and loved ones are much more important than who is elected to the White House or appointed to the Supreme Court.