I was scanning Facebook this morning and saw a photo of Hillary Clinton. The photo linked to some online content, and the summary pointed to a speech Clinton made this past week.
The comment over the photo said something like, “We’re doomed if this thing is in charge.”
This did not come from one of my own Facebook friends (though it easily could have). The reason the post appeared in my news feed is because one of my Facebook friends commented on it. I do not know the person who shared the original post. My friend’s comment did not represent my point of view. I did not click through to read the content that outraged this man I do not know, this person who lives two degrees of separation from me.
I did not need to see any of this. And yet, all day, it has bothered me.
How dare that man refer to Hillary Clinton as a “thing.”
Last night at dinner, we had good family conversation about politics and how we “lean.” Around the table were Jim and me and two of our two teen-aged sons. We all consider ourselves liberal. In terms of political parties, we identify with the Democrats. My sixth-grade daughter was also at the table. She admitted she does not yet know the difference between the parties, nor what they stand for, nor what gets people so worked up that they take sides so viciously.
Indeed. I am thankful for her innocence. Temporarily, I’m even grateful for her ignorance.
But I trust she will gather the information she needs—not necessarily to choose a side, but to form opinions and have a sense of how to vote, whom to support, when to speak, and what to say.
And I’m confident that when she does choose to speak, she will do it respectfully.
I know my daughter will not refer to someone with an opposing view as “this thing.” She will be aware that those who represent the other side are human beings.
People who were swaddled and rocked.
People who learned the times tables and the alphabet.
People who lived through acne and heartbreak.
People who eat and sleep and laugh and cry and wonder and struggle.
Around that dinner table last night, the four of us who had strong views never once referred to the opposition as anything other than human. We spoke with passion for our own views. We talked about views that trouble us, and we named some of the people who we would prefer not to see in positions of power. But we spoke with respect.
Because Hillary Clinton is not a thing.