Lord, Help Me to Love my Republican Neighbors

As the light wanes and the shadows lengthen, it behooves me to consider the welfare of my eternal soul, and as a Christian, I know I am commanded to love my neighbor as myself. In many ways, they are a lovable lot, these neighbors of mine. But this is Central Florida, and ties to the Old South linger.

I’m sure you know all about the Old South. Today, in the 21st century since the coming of Christ, they’re erecting a statue in Selma, Alabama, to honor the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

Ever since Lyndon Johnson signed the voters’ rights act and the Dixiecrats fled the Democratic Party, the Old South has been solidly Republican.

And I find it hard to love Republicans.

Linda, our next door neighbor, told Sandra about an 80-year-old friend of hers who finally failed to get a teaching contract this year and decided to devote her time to getting Republicans elected in November. Linda is in her seventies. And I bet she’s voting for Mitt Romney.

How do you argue politics with Linda? How do you persuade her to counsel her friend against the arrant folly of supporting Mitt Romney?

Linda fell and broke her hip some time ago, and she hobbles around with the aid of an aluminum walker. She has a dog named Molly and just got stuck with a kitten named Bella. She didn’t really want Bella but now that she has her, she loves her dearly. Molly is jealous of Bella, and the ensuing problems have complicated Linda’s life. She phones Sandra several times a day for advice. (I guess we are considered the local experts on cat welfare – probably because of the 12 cats that have somehow accumulated in and around our home.)

How could we break it to Linda that voting Republican is a dastardly thing to do?

How could we bad mouth her friend, who taught handicapped children for so many years? Obviously, the friend is a good soul, perhaps a better soul than I, because I don’t know that I would have the sinew to teach handicapped kids (although I dearly wish I did).

These neighbors of ours are good folks. They probably give 10 percent of their income to their church. They don’t get drunk and behave rowdy. They go to bed early. They smile and say hello. And yesterday John, who is 83, painstakingly made his way across the road, leaning on his cane, to chat with me about the change in our polling place.

We used to vote at the church next door but the powers that be decided we should vote at a trailer park miles away now. John says he phoned and “they” told him they had to change the voting places around every 10 years. Why? “They” didn’t know. It was what it was.

We talked about his heart problems – he had a quintuple bypass some time ago – and the pills we take. We compared diabetes treatments – he takes pills; I inject insulin. And we joked about the dying of the light. He is 83, and like me, he wakes up every morning and thanks the Lord for letting him live to see another day.

We didn’t talk politics. That wouldn’t have been polite.

So he might very well vote Republican. And I will vote for the Democrats.

Two old codgers, amiably canceling each other’s vote.

Meanwhile, the election campaign season rages on, and the very real threat of a Romney-Ryan victory hangs over the nation.

Lord, thy will be done.

Click here to read about that statue in Selma.