So today I wound up in conversation with an older woman at store. She was using one of those electronic carts, joking that when you get old you get to play with toys again, though she hates the things. We instinctively liked each other, and started out talking about her being a pen pal for some local kids, my involvement with Girl Scouting, and about our respective Jewish and Italian cultural backgrounds.
Then we drifted toward politics. She started talking passionately about how we needed to close the border with Mexico; I, no surprise, was disagreeing just as passionately. And you could tell we both hated that this other person who we’d liked was having views we thought were so clearly wrong. When I mentioned that a guest worker program seemed like one possibility, she snapped, “So you voted for Bush then, didn’t you?”
I very quickly made clear that no, absolutely not, I detest what he’s done to this country. Which got us on to finding that we agreed about nearly everything else. We parted ways once again respecting one another.
But the thing that I found myself thinking about was: it’s so easy to assume someone is one of “those” people, who doesn’t know how to think and who just has scary views all around, and in this case we’d both been doing that–until she’d spoken I’d been assuming she was a conservative and a Bush supporter and so on. But views are more complicated than that, though it’s easy to forget this.
And, as my AFSC conflict resolution training taught me, but as nonetheless keep relearning, we have more common ground than we think. It’s really easy to forget that, and to jump to conclusions about one another instead.