When I was in junior high, I fell in love with Alex P. Keaton – not Micheal J. Fox, although I loved him too, but specifically Alex P. Keaton. My family and I watched Family Ties every Tuesday night without fail. We loved the story of the liberal family and the conservative son and their conversations and convictions about the world. We loved their banter, and the way in which they were a family first and respected each other’s points of views, even though they were not shared. Near the end of the series Alex falls in love with Ellen. Ellen is an art history major. She is everything that Alex is not, and yet they fall deeply in love. The romantic in me was hooked. I can still hear that song they played at the train station when he ran after her…..
Alex was this great character. He was over achieving, idealistic, cocky and caring.
When I went to college, I met and fell in love with my own Alex P. Keaton. I fell in love with a Ronald Reagan loving, Richard Nixon defending, Political Stats obsessed Republican. He and I came from different religions – he was Southern Baptist, I was Presbyterian. He was raised in a rural community, I in a college town. He was raised in a conservative family, I was raised in a liberal family. We could not have been more different.
We both loved politics. In college, we would watch C-Span – for fun. We loved the conversations, the debates, the strategies. Some couples watch sports together, we would watch both conventions together. It was fun. My relationship with my Alex P. Keaton has been the longest friendship of my life. We will be married 20 years this July, after dating forever before that. This year, we sat together on the couch, with our kids and watched the election process and first we were humored by the rhetoric, and then we were angered, and then saddened, and eventually we were so numb to it, we weren’t even shocked anymore, we just despaired. – It wasn’t fun anymore. It became dirty. The democracy we believed in, was replaced with Jerry Springer. What would Alex P. Keaton say?
Perhaps you have heard the news that our country is more polarized today than ever before – race, religion, culture, socio-economic, gender. A recent survey learned that today more than ever, parents would not want their children to marry someone from a different political party. I can’t imagine my life without coming to respect and understand someone who came from a different political party, community and religion than I. I humbly believe that we make the world better, together than we do apart.
I guess what I want to say is this, go hug a Democrat. Go hug a Republican. Sit yourself down at a coffee shop, or go for a walk and just talk. Talk about your kids. Talk about your worries. Talk about your lives. Listen. Listen. Listen. Hear each other’s fears. Hear each other’s concerns. Do not belittle your friend by resulting in name calling or blaming. If you think Hilary or Donald are Hitler, they’re not. Hitler was Hitler. Stop calling people Hitler. It’s not helpful.
If we are going to heal this pain, we have to be the ones to do it. He have to stop shouting into the wind. We have to turn down the rhetoric and turn up the civility. We have to model for our children the ideals and values, I truly believe most of us hold in common. He have to find the humor in each other, accept each other, and love each other.
Thanksgiving is in a few days. I imagine we will all be sitting across the table from someone in our family who is either grieving or celebrating this past election. Most of us will come to the table with someone who feels differently than we do — thank God for that! Those differences are a gift. Start listening and striving for a solution, together. Our families can model for the country, how the country should behave. It begins with family.– Too idealistic? I pray, not.
I pray that as we pass the dressing and the green bean casserole, we start to see each other again. I pray that through our conversations and mutual respect for one another- through the bonds of family, healing across our beautiful land can begin.
For those of you who love Alex, as much as I do… enjoy.