Monday, January 16, 2017

Can you admire a person you don't agree with?

I feel a little weird lately.

In the last week or so, I have felt a small sadness is creeping up to me . . . and I think it has to do with the departure of President Obama.

Before you put me in a political box, listen to me for a minute. 

I am not a political guy.  I don’t feel heavy one party or another and there are a ton of ways I disagree with President Obama: Foreign policy, taxes, Planned Parenthood, Marriage and gender issues - the list goes on and on.  

Just for the record, in the last election my vote was one of those wasted ones on a guy from Utah, but as the days wind down for President Obama I have to admit I will miss him.

Here is what I will miss:

I will miss his humor – He wasn't the funniest president ever, but he had some good lines.  You can see a few here.  Obama's Anger Translator is hilarious.  

I will miss his thinking – yeah sure, I disagreed with a lot of his conclusions, but I loved that he thought through it thoroughly and with calm.

I will miss what he represents – Obama was a significant stride in our nation’s history toward equality for everyone.  Hopefully more to come.

I will miss the fact that he was a family man and really loves his wife.  This was such a great role model for our kids - love your wife, stay true to your family.

I will miss his relevance.  We had a guy in the office who knew how to bro hug but also knew that Kanye West is an idiot.

I will miss that he was an ordinary guy.  Maybe a little stuffy at times, but when he stopped in a place to grab lunch it was obvious that his transition back to 'normal life' will be easy - he's one of 'us.'

And so maybe this blog is not so much about Obama as it is about admiring the people we disagree with.  I feel like our culture has lost the art of respecting your opponents.

How do I know?  Becuase there will be people who will respond to this questioning my values.  There will be some who say I am soft, unprincipled, naive and worse.  All because I happen to like the guy that I disagree with.  It is a loss in our culture when we have decided that people who think differently than us are not worthy of friendship.

One of the biggest lies I have heard over the last decade is the lie that if you disagree with me you are filled with hate.  The practical outworking of this idea is another lie: that you can't find goodness in the people you disagree with.  

The truth between is that you can admire the people you disagree with.

You and I need to change the culture on this point.  Admiration for someone who thinks differently doesn't change our core values.  This is not weakness - it is a great strength to understand those who are different and maintain your course.  I can learn from someone I feel is misguided.  I can admire principled people – even when I feel those principles are wrong.

It seems fitting that on Martin Luther King Day we reaffirm that "we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."

So I admire the man that pushed us to get healthcare for everyone into the national discussion.  I am delighted that we are (hopefully) restructuring it in a way that balances pre-existing conditions without bankrupting the next generation.  I mean, hats off to a guy who pushed his passion to a point where now healthcare is a Republican agenda item.

You wouldn’t have heard that 10 years ago.

So thank you, President Obama for being our president for the last eight years.  Thank you for your dignity and class - and I admire you even if (and sometimes especially because) we are different.

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