Many of us have lost contact with friends/family before, during and after the 2016 presidential election — not only due to the election results, but more so because of a disparity in basic morals, ethics and regard for other human beings.
Left-leaning Pastor John Pavlovitz of North Carolina writes about these relationship forfeitures and he does it in the form of an open letter to a “friend.” He not only to expresses grief over the loss, but also conveys an unapologetic claiming of his own core beliefs.
There’s a good chance you won’t see this, as at some point over the past year you either unfriended, unfollowed, or physically disconnected from me—or I from you. There may have been a decisive severing or a slow drifting apart, but the resulting space between us is the same. Still, I’m hopeful that somehow these words will reach you, because there are some things that you need to know; things that I need to say, if for nothing other than my own sanity.
The first thing I want you to know is that I don’t celebrate this separation. The distance has come with a great deal of grieving. It’s come with heartbreak at the realization of the impasse we reached and the fractures that resulted. This is not something I take lightly or rejoice at all in, in fact it is a profound loss and defeat—and certainly not what I’d have planned or preferred a year ago.
Pavlovitz goes on to say that he can’t regret the decision for distance, because in many ways, it’s “simply what has to be.” The veteran pastor says the essential differences he and his friends have learned about each other are too “elemental to dismiss” — and ignoring the differences or remaining silent would be more regretful. He adds he has stopped apologizing to anyone for his own truth.
But Pavlovitz holds on to the hope that, at some point, there will be some sort of restoration or rebuilding of the relationships now lost, but if those bridges are mended there are some non-negotialbles he must insist upon and he lists them here:
A working belief in the inherent value of all people.
Agreement on the common dignity everyone deserves to be treated with regardless of their religion, skin color, orientation, or nation of origin.
A baseline of empathy for other people’s pain.
A commitment to facts that transcend ideology and emotion.
Pavlotiz says, when it comes down to it, the above non-negotialbes are “hills worth dying on” even if relationships are the casualties. “There is always a price to pay for speaking and a price for silence too—and I have chosen the former because that is how deeply these convictions run.”
It’s not about politics, says the pastor — it’s about the “differences in the ways in which we view the world and believe other people should be treated” and says that is what makes finding a way to move forward so hard. In closing John Pavlovitz concludes his piece with:
So, friend, while I may miss you, respect you, or even love you—I may have to be okay doing it from a distance for now.
You can read his full letter here. Perhaps it’s a sentiment some of us can use if/when addressing the friends/family members we’ve lost — if/when the time ever comes.