The Opponent You Love Most

By Kate Hughes

My grandson and I reached an agreement today. He is going to be my guide and interpreter in the foreign land I suddenly feel my country to be.

I am a progressive Democrat. My grandson, 17, is a conservative Republican. We’re both appalled by how the other’s side is acting. He, his conservative family (parents and sister) and I are living under one roof, and for the past months we all agreed to not discuss politics. That is no longer possible. We have to talk.

Because my grandson holds the strongest views opposing mine, I decided to start by talking to him. I told Oliver, first, that I love him more (incalculably) than I disagree with him and that that will always be true. I told him I need him to help me understand what his side believes and fears, because I can’t understand it on my own. I have asked Oliver to be my guide as the country heads wherever it is on its way to now. He has agreed.

Our starting point will be a daily exchange of a) news stories and b) things we’ve heard or seen in the course of the day – he at school, I among colleagues or on the street – that especially anger us about the other side. He will explain what I bring to him. I will try to do the same. Our intention is for this to be an ongoing arrangement. We also intend to disseminate what we learn from each other among our friends. It is an exchange.

Oliver and I anticipate tension. I know I will learn from him. I hope he will learn from me. If you love someone on the other side, you might consider such an agreement with them. If a lot of us do this – starting right now – it might make a difference. We need to.

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