Sunday, December 20, 2009

Politics of the Heart

The Judgement of Solomon, Raphael

E. M. Forster famously wrote in Two Cheers for Democracy, “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country.”

E. M. Forster sounds like a loyal friend.

I've been struggling with the question of two friends running for the same office. I've previously supported each of them in their successful campaigns for state legislative seats. My congressman recently announced he would not be running for reelection, and several people have thrown their hat in the ring. Two of those hats belong to my friends.

My really good friends.

Ralph Waldo Emerson noted "We talk of choosing our friends, but friends are self-elected."

That may be so, but I was looking for guidance on the question of choosing between friends.

I've been extremely active in electoral politics at all levels, and my children have been very willing participants in campaign rallies, signwaving and literature dropping efforts. So I knew they would understand the dilemma - and that they'd be watching to see how I handled it.

I felt like King Solomon, forced to settle a dispute about which woman who claimed a child was truly the mother.

No, I felt like the mother, watching in horror as Solomon threatened to cut the child in two.

And that gave me an answer. The true mother relinquished her claim rather than see her child destroyed.

I want to make a choice. I've spent years evaluating and weighing and judging and choosing and acting to support my choices.

But I respect and admire both of these people. I don't want to do anything to harm either one, and a political contest inherently involves attacks on one's opponents. It hurts my heart to think of supporting one at the expense of the other. In addition to their fine minds and leadership qualities, they have each been there to share joys and comforted me at tough times in my life.

I cannot choose. And I told them so. And - miracle of miracles - they were okay with that. Not thrilled, but okay. Each spoke to me about our friendship as something they valued, transcending the political arena.

I am damned lucky to have these two people in my life.

"If two friends ask you to judge a dispute,
don't accept, because you will lose one
friend; on the other hand, if two strangers
come with the same request, accept
because you will gain one friend."
~ St. Augustin

Vision of St. Augustin by Vittore Carpaccio

Is it just me, or does that funky chair thing on the left look like
the Time Machine from the cheesy Rod Taylor movie?


Mrs. Chili said...

Smart friends who'd choose your continued friendship over their political careers. You truly are in an impossible situation here, and I agree that, though it may go against your nature to sit this one out, it's most certainly your best option.

Kathy Amen said...

What a difficult dilemma! I also think you handled it the best way possible. How sad, though, that campaigns have to "inherently involves attacks on one's opponents." Although even if we lived in a perfect political world, where campaigns were rational and positive, you'd still be in a tough place.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Thanks, Mrs. Chili and Kathy. I appreciate your comments about this. I will undoubtedly second guess this decision for a while, so it's good to have your reinforcement.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I think you were wise in this course of action, and I still think there could be a way for you to support one of the candidates, if they make it to the next level.

You are a good, good friend, Holly Forrest. Never a doubt...

Barry said...

Smart friends, but now that both have chosen to spare the baby (so to speak) even Salomon couldn't choose between them.

I guess they both read that story?

Shana said...

Vote for Pedro.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

That was a tough situation. Choosing between friends is hell. It's harder than choosing between family, because they have to come back to you sometime, but friends are so much trickier.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Lisa - of course. And being a good friend is easy. I just think "What would Lisa M do?" and do it.

Barry - you're right; I've been spared.

Shana - can I have your tots?

Andrew - there are some family members I definitely would NOT choose to elect. Heh!