Amid arguing about whether the current president deserves impeachment, the past vice president should be investigated instead and every other partisan assault on our sensibilities earlier this week, one of the most important messages was put forth to the American people. It bears repeating as often as it can be squeezed into the rhetorical firebombing that occupies too much of our time.
A lot of people freaked out last Sunday when popular talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, an unashamed lesbian, was captured enjoying the Dallas Cowboys game sitting next to former President George W. Bush, a conservative Republican icon and popular liberal foil.
“They thought, why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?” DeGeneres asked during the Tuesday episode of her daytime show. “A lot of people were mad. And they did what people do when they’re mad … they tweet.”
The tweets from other Hollywood liberals weren’t very understanding, attacking Bush’s LQBT policies and taking America to war in Iraq. Conservative celebrities and commentators were more forgiving, saying the friendship between people with differing viewpoints is a model to be followed.
Of course, those completely opposite reactions are emblematic of the state of American culture and politics. DeGeneres had the right sentiment, though, and that message we all should follow.
“Here’s the thing. I’m friends with George Bush,” she said. “In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. …
“But just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them. When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t only mean the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”
It’s an important piece of advice, one that is written in an ancient text many Americans claim to follow.
On a final note, for those who saw the reaction as an opportunity to bash the intolerance of the left, go back a few years when the shoe was on the other foot. In 2012, an affiliate of the American Family Association called on J.C. Penney to fire DeGeneres as a spokeswoman because she is openly lesbian, a stance supported in many conservative circles.
It seems there is plenty of intolerance to go around on both sides, and clearly not enough kindness.