I thought people here might be interested in a surprising follow-up.
A few days ago, I wrote about my Dittohead friend who, far several years now has been sending me over-the-edge maniacal emails about his hatred for President Obama and anything left of center, to the point of starting one reply, " I FEEL THAT THE LEFT IS DESPICABLE," And sending me only these emails, talking about pretty much nothing else.
I had sent him a very long bend-over-backwards note, making every possible effort to only be polite and even avoid most things political, about how distressing it was to be lumped as a despicable enemy and a hated lackey of the Commies and to only get that in a barrage of emails from a friend. And a friend who is otherwise such a good person, as long as politics doesn't creep into his thoughts. I went through draft after draft to write it, taking probably an hour. (After all, when writing to someone like that, on whatever side of the political spectrum, they’ll pick at any and every word to discredit what you’re saying. So, I went over it and over it and…endlessly.)
I was pleased (and a bit shocked) by this response.
At least in his response, he seems to FINALLY get what I was saying. (Whether he’ll remember it, who knows?) I still think his ranting politics of hatred are sad, borderline pathetic and over-the-ledge, but this was a huge step towards a sense of humanity. If others here have been on the receiving end of mad-dervish Dittohead emails, I know you’ll appreciate how rare this is.
I won’t enclose his whole email, but just two appropriate passages which leap out.
I get what you’re saying, and I basically agree. I think I have taken out my blistering anger at Obama on you, who has defended him, and I guess that’s my disconnect. You are a good guy and, because of your defense of these people who I dislike so much, you have become the target of my ire.
None of this has anything to do with our vast, ethereal, monumental divide in politics, of course. But this was never a note I expected to receive. And it's nice to know that my hour of drafts was not wasted. At least for the one brief, shining moment that was known as Camelot.
And I should note, too, that in his email that wasn't a single word about the election results. No dancing and gloating about how finally America is saved from the evil president and Lefties who are destroying the country. Just largely this response to my long comments about how his emails were coming across, and and why he was risking drawing a wedge between our friendship, pointing out how outraged he's be if the situation was reversed and he was on the receiving end.
There was some politics in his response, but it was mild and mostly for the sake of perspective. And there was one jibe (though just one) about him challenging a fact that I'd corrected him on concerning the IRA and asking for documentation. I easily found and sent it in my reply -- along with a request that if he ever thinks in the future that I've gotten facts wrong, that his initial reaction please be that I screwed up, rather than that I was "lying" to him...
But mainly it was just a thoughtful note on a personal level. It took a whole lot of effort on my part to get there, but it could have ended badly -- and I expected it to end badly, and he gets a whole lot of points for coming through.
I sent a long note of appreciation and further perspective, and then ended it with an acknowledgement of the election, since I thought that was only right and proper. And concluded things this way --
"And one suggestion. Do you think maybe it’s time you and I stopped debating politics? You know that in the early days I read the articles you sent and went into great detail responding to them. And you never budged me an inch, and I didn’t budge you an inch. So, perhaps we accept that and move past it. Being friends with such a good guy as you is far more important to me than risking making your head explode.
"If you want to keep sending me things, so be it, you’re choice. But I’d much rather have all our communication be joyous.
"Whatever. Best wishes. And I sure hope the next two years are good for everyone…"
What happens, next? Who knows? We'll see...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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