The holidays are here. Family gatherings are around the corner. For most of us, that means navigating difficult relationships that we are only obligated to navigate twice a year.
“Eliminate toxic relationships from your life” has become a buzz phrase as of late. While the notion had great initial intentions, it has become overgeneralized. There are two problematic ways people have synthesized this:
1) Eliminate anyone who thinks differently than you from your life.
2) Remove perplexing relationships from your life and label them as toxic for validation of your decision, rather than growing as a person by learning to navigate the relationship.
I hear people stamp the “eliminating toxic relationships” mark on difficult family members in particular.
In comes the United States Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia.
Notorious RBG was one of the most prominent Democratic voices of her time, while Justice Scalia was one of the most prominent Republican voices of his time. RBG was Jewish, while Scalia was Catholic. The two very rarely agreed on matters of law. They argued fairly and often.
However, they vacationed together, dined together, went to operas together, and much more. The two famous justices had a notable friendship.
Through reading about their friendship in The RBG Way, one particular comment RBG made about Scalia stuck out to me. She said that she never took any of their differences personally.
Let that sink in: She didn’t take someone not agreeing with her personally.
This is a skill we are losing as a society.
These two people had the weight of the country on their shoulders. They worked long, hard hours and spent most of their lives fighting for what they believed was best for this country. They were able to not only cordially work with each other with their differing opinions, but, also, make a great friendship out of it.
Yet, we can’t even sit across the table from Uncle Timmy that voted differently than us in 2020 without rolling our eyes. We take a twice-removed aunt’s comment that our generation doesn’t discipline kids well to heart. It’s pathetic.
On most days the United States Supreme Court is in session (you know, when the justices are actively disagreeing with each other), the justices eat lunch together. They are not required to, it is just what they do.
Who we are is based on so much more than our parenting styles, political beliefs, and vaccination statuses, yet that seems to be how we primarily define ourselves on social media and amongst family.
What we can learn from RBG and Scalia for the holidays is that it is possible to love and cherish a relationship with a person that thinks differently than you. It is possible to either not discuss controversial topics at all, as the justices do at lunch, or embrace differences as RBG and Scalia did.
To dive even more into the topic on embracing differences, here’s some great thoughts from Houston Moms.