According to figures from the Pew Research Center, roughly 7 in 10 Democrats and Democrat-leaning voters seeking relationships would not consider a Trump voter. Just under half of Republican and Republican-leaning voters would not consider dating a Clinton voter. We are deeply disheartened to encounter these figures, and want to understand why it is that this kind of prejudice is so pervasive.
Political affiliations have become so entrenched for many that they take on some of the worst aspects of tribalism: suspicion of the 'other', an unwavering in-group attitude, and refusal to re-examine one's own views.
In my prior post entitled "The Blind Crusade, Part 1," I described Deeyah Khan, who embodied the pinnacle of the principles we are attempting to convey here. She, a woman of South Asian descent, engaged with and attempted to understand white supremacist leaders in the United States on a personal level. In the end, her kindness and warmth led several members of the hateful groups to renounce their affiliations.
We are not suggesting that all should become like Deeyah Khan. She placed herself at great personal risk. However, her instinct towards trying to engage and understand, rather than judge and exclude is an admirable attitude that we hope more people embrace.
Obviously, you must navigate this principle within reason. If you adhere to a strict vegan diet for moral purposes, it may be difficult to embrace a butcher or factory farm owner. Our point is to lean on the side of giving people a chance to make a unique contribution to your life, because they will.
We both love visiting our beloved California beaches. The ideal cuisine for us is tangy southern barbecue. And no music jams quite like Chicago blues. Thankfully, we live in a world where we can go to the beach, bring some takeout barbecue, and play Chicago blues in the car ride. Most of us need not be told that traveling and probing different foods and music broadens our worldview.
This sort of attitude is equally valid when applied to the people you encounter, all of whom have viewpoints and expertise that differ from yours. With an open mind, you can make some unlikely friends, like an Irishman who can help improve your drinking prowess, a Frenchwoman who can correct your pronunciation of L'Etranger, a Costa Rican woman who introduces you to under appreciated Spanish language music, a Dutch couple who teaches you of the glories of Amsterdam FC, or an outraged Czech banker who was unenthusiastic about currency exchanges (yes, these are all real encounters of ours).
We hope that, through the lens of our unlikely friendship, we can shed some light on the benefits of giving the 'other,' whoever they might be, a chance. While they will rarely make such a revolutionary impact as Al has made in my life, they will undoubtedly open your eyes in unexpected ways and introduce you to ideas, music, interests, and hobbies you otherwise would not have encountered.