To Voltaire with Love

“I don’t know how she can vote for ______ and simultaneously claim that I matter…”


I have seen the same disappointment and realization I read in my friend’s post repeatedly over the past couple of years. A loved one, an old friend or a co-worker we respect shows up in our news feed, across the Twitterverse and in Snapchats, and we are aghast they have views that are in opposition to ones we ourselves hold dear.

Our hearts break from the emotional betrayal. We see them sharing memes that demean something we hold sacred. Sometimes we privately message or talk to them about the likes on articles that seem to oppose the very air we breathe. We question how anyone who knows or loves us could want the less than the best for us. It hurts when we realize they value their beliefs and themselves more than they cherish us.

We tell ourselves we are not like that; that unlike them, we want the best for everyone. We believe we are better at holding up ethics and morals on how to live a responsible life. Yet, if we’re being honest, really honest, we love our beliefs more than we loved them. If not, would we even be considering cutting off our relationship with them?

We forget that most of us don’t operate from hate; we operate from a place of love or fear.  Even if we are both moving in a sphere of love, it can still show up differently for different people.

I know I didn’t speak to several family members for a long period because we could not resolve our principles in how a good human being exists in the world. They had faith that loving me from a distance came from a godly place. And I thought I was more caring by cutting off anyone that did not share my worldview of equality and how to get there instead of constantly arguing. I missed valuable time with some of the people I loved the most because my ego didn’t know how to navigate around their egos. I couldn’t let go of my way being the only way.

“I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” is a great Voltairean principle. Do we mean it? Will we defend the beliefs we vehemently disagree with, the ones against us? When we think of diversity, we usually think of color, sexuality, gender, ability, age and sometimes religion. What about political beliefs? Shouldn’t they be given equal protection too? It seems we’ve forgotten the art of compromise, its purpose and its value.

I get it. Not everyone here is for me. That’s okay.  I don’t have any control over them anyway. And I know this might be considered too wishy-washy for some, too liberal for others. But haven’t we been here on this planet long enough to live the beliefs we claim to hold dear or at least try? Haven’t I learned I can only control how I show up and what I do when I lead with my heart?

Loving in spite of our fears is hard. Viewing life through someone else’s eyes takes practice.  We all believe that we are doing what we think is the right thing to do. The next time you see you fingers flying on the keyboard, searching for the best curse word or just right meme to smash someone else, take a pause.  Refuse to have someone other than us dictate the course of our souls. Look for that one speck, that one small kernel of shared hope and belief in what they shared and build on that. Find in yourself a way to agree. That is how you go high instead of going low…n’est-ce pas?

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