Dear Mom: We have lived with a very nice neighbor for almost 30 years. “Charles” is helpful and friendly, and we really like him.
Their political views are 180 degrees different from ours.
So far, that hasn’t been a problem, because we have so many other things to discuss (gardening, family, etc.), and we’ve kept our thoughts to ourselves.
The problem is that he has hung a large flag a few feet from our backyard fence (a new and even bolder model has replaced the original). This flag has a message that represents ideas that are offensive to us.
No profanity – just divisive and hurtful implications. I don’t think it’s a deliberate att*ck on us or anything like that.
We can’t help but see and hear it flapping in the wind whenever we’re in our yard. It extends about 10 feet from the ground, so it cannot be overlooked. (No other neighbors can see it.)
Visitors to our home have commented: “What do you think of this flag?” “I can get rid of that for you — haha,” etc.
My husband and I do not want to lose Charles’ friendship or ruin the good relationship we have had for years.
But it’s deeply troubling to me – a constant reminder of the ugly divide in our country.
I find myself avoiding my yard (and feeling bad for my neighbor).
What is your advice?
Dear Tots: You don’t provide any specifics about the flag – nor do you say what your personal politics are – and so I’m committed to conceptualizing the issue broadly.
(I’m proceeding on the assumption that the flag does not contain words or symbols that might incite violence, but that it directly opposes your own views or values.)
It seems you never asked your neighbor if he could move that flag to another spot in his yard, so it wasn’t fluttering so annoyingly close to yours.
We live in a country where everyone is free to fly their own weird flag, and where people like you and your neighbors can live happily and peacefully side by side – each to express themselves. Free, or to remain silent, if that’s what you like to do.
Your options are to wave your flag or banner, express your views directly or indirectly through a range of media, or exercise your freedom to keep your views to yourself.
I can’t tell you how to feel, but you might feel differently if you were able to reframe it. “Tolerance” is a challenge to tolerate the free speech of others, even if you find their true views abhorrent.
And so when friends ask you what you think of your neighbor’s flag, you can say, “Well, every day I see it, I’m forced to appreciate the First Amendment. So – God bless America!
Dear Mom: Recently my husband and I had an issue of infidelity (on my part).
We are working on our marriage, and things seem to be getting much better.
When it first happened he was quite upset and turned to his friends and the majority of them blocked me.
His best friend doesn’t talk to me much anymore, but I reached out to him to tell him that I love him and his girlfriend and don’t want to lose them and that I hope he’ll forgive me. Will not hate.
He responded, explaining that he wasn’t making a judgment call until he had time to see how my husband was feeling.
When it’s time for me to see them (they all live out of state), do you have any tips so I don’t feel awkward, awkward, or scared?
I am afraid that they will hate me and look at me with hatred for the rest of their lives.
Dear Nervous: Your husband’s best friend answered you honestly and responsibly. You handled this meeting well too.
Also, it is important for both you and your husband to communicate that you are on the mend, but otherwise – the inner workings of your marriage will remain private.
Dear Mom: “Had Enough” has you writing about your daughter, whose high school friends reject her, causing her to drop out.
It is this weakness that is bad in this country today.
You should have called him out. Instead you wrapped it up.
Dear Desperate: I don’t think “calling out” a vulnerable person is necessarily helpful.
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