A reader who requests anonymity writes:
I am a volunteer for independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. After voting at Saugatuck Elementary School last week I donned my Kennedy t-shirt, grabbed my flyers and stood with the other electioneers, excited to spread early awareness of his messages.
I quickly discovered, though, that the strangers I had encountered in Stamford 2 days earlier were much more polite than most of my “neighbors” and candidates here in Westport.
Invalidly assuming that Kennedy will take votes from Biden and allow Trump to win, most of them ignored and distanced themselves from me, or gave me looks of disgust and rudely swatted me away.
One person even challenged my right to be there. For 3 hours, except for a few friends, friends of friends and inquisitive voters, I was treated like the plague.
Only I am not the plague. I am your neighbor, and the mother of a child so sick with an amalgamation of autoimmune and long-term Lyme disease with undiagnosed co-infections that turned into brain inflammation, such that over the past 15 years she has endured innumerable doctor visits, painful and invasive tests and procedures, hospitalizations, and traumatic, middle-of-the-night ER trips.
I am also the recipient of a defective surgical screw that was fast-tracked through the FDA without sufficient testing and quickly removed from the market thereafter, the complications of which left me handicapped and in severe pain for 5 years.
I doubt anyone would have guessed these challenges simply by looking at me; I’m thinking they saw a smiling, hopeful person.
And the reason I have hope is because of RFK Jr. I appreciate his pledge to declare war on chronic disease, to unwind the corrupt corporate capture of our regulatory agencies, and to clean up our food and water supplies from the multitude of chemicals and pesticides which contribute to our skyrocketing autoimmune and chronic disease rates.
I understand the battle that Mr. Kennedy faces given the intentional smears and misrepresentations of his positions by the media and 2-party system — the “crazy anti-vaxxer” and “conspiracy theorist” tropes — but he is a man of high integrity and values who puts the welfare of others ahead of his own.
He is not anti-vaccine. He and his children are vaccinated; he is for safer vaccines, with increased testing.
For all the talk of inclusivity in this town, only one man dared to be curious and ask me why I was supporting RFK Jr.
Asking questions of someone we disagree with is a portal to understanding, and it is exactly what philosopher Charles Eisenstein calls for when encountering a political opponent:
Ask what confluences of circumstances, social, economic, and biographical may have brought them there. You may still not know how to engage with them, but at least you will not be on the warpath automatically. We hate what we fear, and we fear what we do not know. So let’s stop making our opponents invisible behind a caricature of evil.
I am your neighbor, and a human being with a confluence of painful circumstances that have brought me where I am.
I am striving for an end to the hate and division enveloping our country, and for the health and wellness of my family — and of your family too.
Even if you will never see it that way. Even if you are rude to me. Even if you think the challenges I have faced will never befall you or your children.
Because I don’t wish on anyone what my child and I have been through, and more than anything, I want to see our nation and our world at peace.
If we can’t engender peace and understanding in our own town, we have no chance of engendering it outside of it.