My friend Carolyn and I took a mini road trip not too long ago, winding through northern Utah in search of a break from the recent incessant rain.
We're close as sisters, though not so close that I can use her real name for what I'm about to say. I've chosen a pseudonym for her because ours is a warm, time-tested relationship that I treasure.
On the way home, probably because of all the attention in the news for D-Day's big anniversary Thursday, we were talking about sacrifice and the soldiers we love. I have a brother who retired from a career in the military and a nephew who currently serves. Her husband served in Vietnam and she has scads of veterans in her family tree.
The conversation not unnaturally morphed into a discussion of politics and the president's unique approach to statesmanship and from there to the upcoming election.
Turns out, we couldn't be more different politically if we came from an entirely different species. Still, that's not problematic for me. I love a lot of people who think I am as wrong-headed as can be — and I expect them to love me back. Politics is not how we all relate to each other, nor is it the field on which we meet. It doesn't define any of us in my book.
But I am persistently sad when I hear people quote genuine fake news — things that have been debunked as patently untrue, rumors spread by sources whose only goal is to turn people against each other and divide the house that is America or folks who make their living inflaming others on the radio to gain clout. When something has been proven to be a lie, I can't figure out why it persists. And I loathe it when someone I genuinely like and respect says, "well, I believe it anyway."
I know I've been duped before by stuff that seems possible, but if you show me where I erred, I'll do my level best to correct the mistake and disseminate what's true, especially when it comes to fake news. If I've posted it online, I'd never leave it up to save face.
I believe some things are true and some things are false and just saying the latter over and over won’t make it so.
So there we were, close friends on a road trip, and it felt a little like a dilemma. Do you tell your lifelong buddy that she's misinformed or do you let it go? I was tempted to tell her she was becoming a shill for Russian propaganda, though I can't guarantee that's the actual source. She could just be gullible enough to believe someone who makes up facts on the fly.
Clearly, her "truth" was appealing because it played into what she believes politically and philosophically. It was the opposite to me, anathema.
The bottom line, though, is I would never consider myself more patriotic than Carolyn. I don't believe I love our country more than she does and I'd balk if she thought I loved it less because we see things differently.
I believe some things are true and some things are false and just saying the latter over and over won't make it so. Too many of us have gotten lazy about seeking facts.
But I learned some things from listening to her and there are differences that are instructive and I can appreciate.
We have a lot in common, including love of country. We both choke up at the sight of a flag-draped coffin or hearing our national anthem played during the Olympics. Neither of us would bypass the opportunity to vote, though apparently we cancel each other out. We love America, though our vision of how best to serve its future differs.
And we love each other and will keep talking and also hoping for this nation's prosperity together.
In our separate ways.