Friends Instead of Adversaries

Regular readers may have noticed that there has been a distinct lack of posts involving sports coming from me as of late. This is due, in part, to the dismal state of my favorite teams. After an incredible run to the Western Conference Finals last season, my Houston Rockets have imploded. Their record is below .500 and they are currently outside of the playoffs. The Aggies started out strong, but then cratered for a second straight season, and had two 5 star quarterbacks transfer to different programs. Chelsea, my team in the English Premier League, added some great players to their roster that won the league last year, but somehow are closer to the bottom of the table than the top. (According to my ESPN app, they gave up a deciding goal while I was typing this!) Though this rash of embarrassment has contributed to my lack of sports-related posts, there is another factor. Every four years, there is a spectacle that grabs my attention in a way that rivals my love of sports. It's not the Olympics or the World Cup.

Yes, it's true. I'm a political junkie. I can name all the major Republican candidates, discuss at length the implications of super delegates on the Democratic primary, and even explain the platform of Vermin Supreme. (He advocates for government-issued ponies and wears a boot as a hat.)

You may be thinking, "Drew, you seem like such an optimistic person! How could you follow politics so closely without becoming cynical and sad?" Truth be told, I do get discouraged at times by the rhetoric and policy choice made by members of our government, no matter which way the politicians lean nor whether they work at the national, state, or local level. But I continue to listen, read, and watch what happens for two main reasons: For starters, I believe that it matters. As someone with a voice in the system, I want to be informed so that I can participate in ways that are meaningful and true to what I think is best. Secondly, there are occasionally stories from politics that give me more hope for the world. Today, I want to share one of them.

For those who have not heard, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away over the weekend. He served on the Supreme Court since 1986, and was known for his staunchly Conservative views. In the wake of his death, there have been many articles written about his legacy and how/when his seat will be filled. But what stood out to me among all the pieces was the touching tribute to the friendship between Justice Scalia and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Despite being on opposite ends of the political spectrum and working in a setting predicated on disputes on issues of importance, these two opposites became fast friends. They spoke kindly of each other, attended the opera, and even took family vacations together.

Why does this friendship matter? Because we live in a polarized world, but Justice Scalia and Justice Ginsburg show that relationships can transcend politics. This truth is crucial in our work of community development. There are folks living in our neighborhoods of all political stripes: Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians, Independents, folks who are apathetic, and everything in between. This diversity of political belief mirrors the neighborhoods' variety of races/ethnicities, religious beliefs, and many other differences.

These differences do matter, but they are not enough to overcome what unites us: our desire to see the world made better for future generations. Our methods of walking the path towards a better future may not always look the same, but when we acknowledge the humanity of others, we humanize ourselves. Two oppositely-aligned titans of the United States' Judicial branch modeled the power of relationship through their treatment of each other. May we all treat those with whom we disagree with the respect and kindness displayed by Justice Ginsburg and the late Justice Scalia.

(For more, here's an article quoting them both about their friendship, disagreements, parasailing, riding elephants, and not being "100% sober")