This month pictures surfaced online of famous Hollywood talk show host Ellen DeGeneres sitting and laughing with former President George Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game against the Green Bay Packers.
With such a difference in opinions (DeGeneres being liberal as they come as well as a lesbian, and Bush a Republican) criticisms quickly flooded in, decrying DeGeneres for somehow compromising her principles by simply sitting next to someone whose opinions differ from her own. These conclusions quickly reached by critics are indicative of the political climate today.
Why should it be such a big deal that a liberal sat next to a conservative? Why is it that people are so angry that two people were able to set aside their politics and come together to enjoy a football game without constantly making everything political?
People should be able to be friends without politics getting in the way. One of thr main reasons our country is so critically divided along party lines is that people have stopped being friendly with one another when their opinions differ. People no longer care about civility, and politics has become the hill on which friendships and common courtesy die.
DeGeneres talked about the outcry against her actions by saying, “Here’s the thing: I’m friends with George Bush, and in fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have … Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not going to be friends with them.”
DeGeneres’s response is a refreshing return to the wild concept that people with different political beliefs can be friendly with one another, and that politics should not be the reason friendships end.
I may be a conservative, but I do not tend to let politics get in between me and my friends. I may think that the Second Amendment is the most critical amendment in the Bill of Rights, but I do not end friendships with people who think guns should be confiscated, and I hope my friends would show me the same courtesy. There is a time and place for everything, and the time and place for politics is not a Cowboys football game.
I think it is great that DeGeneres and the Bushes sat next to each other because it symbolizes what America needs in order to return to a world that truly emphasizes kindness and civility: the ability to cross party lines and sit down with a friend to enjoy a common interest without the stumbling block of politics getting in the way.
So, a call to action: sit down with someone who does not share your opinions. Laugh with them, eat a meal with them, be civil and friendly. Because until Americans can return to civility, politics will continue to consume our lives until one side gets the upper hand.
By Tess Perdue