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  • Writer's pictureSara Sharpe

Letter 1: Dear Friend. Can I still call you Friend?

Updated: May 31, 2023

Dear Conservative, Right-leaning friend:

We haven’t talked in so long! I don’t have any good excuse as to why, really, except that, well, things got complicated. It struck me, recently, that when it comes to conservative, republican friends, I don’t have many of those anymore. Not really.

It hasn’t always been this way. A few short years ago, I had friends of ALL stripes, if you know what I mean. But that was back when we lived in a state of relative innocence. Back then we didn’t talk much about politics; it just never came up. We talked about kids and relationships and the ridiculous happenings at work. There was that time your husband was unfaithful (remember? terrible times), and you spent a day on my couch, sobbing. I did what I could. I listened; I rubbed your back... Back then, I didn’t think to ask whether you were right or left leaning before I brought you tea and handed you Kleenex. But that was then, and this is now. That was before we had uniforms by way of face masks, marking us as GOOD or BAD, FRIEND or FOE, US or THEM. We were so innocent, weren’t we? We liked each other because no one had told us how incompatible we were. Not yet anyway.

But then Donald happened. The protests broke out. A pandemic swept the nation. There were kids in cages, fears of a stolen election, ongoing debates about guns, immigration, abortion, and mask mandates. Once upon a time (for some of us, at least), it was possible to avoid ugly politics and thorny issues, but no more. The issues confronting us now were deeply personal and everywhere.

It wasn’t long before we were all, effectively, branded. Is that your recollection? As I recall, a single Facebook post could do it. Post something even remotely political, and one was no longer expressing an opinion so much as declaring a side. There were clear sides by that point, no reason to pretend otherwise, and let’s be honest: You and I were complicit. You’d post something, I’d comment, you’d respond - point, counterpoint, point, counterpoint - until we were both seething (if politely). It didn’t take much of that before we realized our days of sitting on the couch together were over. The chasm between us grew wider and wider because, like, what had we ever thought we’d had in common? The end of our friendship happened slowly and then quickly, like a bad divorce. Irreconcilable differences. And it wasn’t just you. This was one, big-ass divorce. I lost so many people to the “other side.” Or maybe I didn’t lose them so much as I culled them, systematically. We all just wanted some peace, you know?

The thing is, conservative, republican friend, I miss you a little bit.

I mean, sure, life is easier now that you’re gone. I don’t miss the arguing; I can tell you that. At least we’re not constantly licking our wounds or, worse, mentally formulating the verbal equivalent of a knockout punch so we’d be armed and ready the next time we suited up. Because let’s be honest again: we were after the knockout punch every time. We’re not hostile people ordinarily – I know this about us – but these are not ordinary times. Because stakes! The stakes are so high! (And no kidding, they really are.)

The thing is, I think I miss you a little. Did I mention that? Honestly, I feel like my friend group has been cut in half. Not only that, but I also have this sneaking suspicion that, despite the rhetoric, we might not get anywhere if we don’t figure out how to get there together on some level. And not to be overly dramatic, but I sometimes worry our democracy is in peril. I think we’ve forgotten that we need each other. Not just personally, but societally: We need each other.

To that end, I’ve decided to write you series of letters. I’ve decided to try sending a series of letters from my side of the Great Divide to yours, so we can remind ourselves that there are people behind the stereotypes. In place of the Great Divide, I’m hoping for the Great American Reunion – at least on some level. Are you open to that, after all we’ve been through? We’ll call the series, “Love Letters from Across the Divide, in spite of it all.”

There may be things about which we never agree, but I want to believe we can find our way back to each other; back to a place of kindness, first and foremost. What if you need tea and Kleenex again?



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Aug 16, 2023

Your side had us fired from our jobs.

You forcibly masked our children if we were not wealthy enough to resist.

You wanted us removed from society.

You wanted us thrown into camps.

Your politicians silenced us when we tried to share the truth with you.

You are the totalitarians that you smugly accuse us of being.

No. There will be no reconciliation.

You are bad people who must be driven from the public square forever.

Your entire way of thinking must be exterminated. The beauty of that is that the truth will do all of the work.

Aug 18, 2023
Replying to

Does it matter?

If you're looking for reconciliation, these are our terms.

Edit: Even though we've never met, I stipulate that I believe you have good intentions.

I stipulate that you think you meant well.

I don't accuse you of being deliberately oppressive.

I accuse you of deliberate ignorance.


May 29, 2023

Listening and learning.

Thank you, my friend, for this gift.


May 28, 2023

I'm so ready for this.

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