Dear Conservative Friends: A Letter to Encourage Dialogue Across Barriers

Dear Conservative Friends,

I’m here because I’d like to start a dialogue with you. I am tired of the fighting across what seems to be a Grand Canyon of a divide. While I have a few of what you would consider socially liberal opinions and facets of my identity, I don’t subscribe to a political affiliation. I would rather work cooperatively. Too many lives are being lost, societies all over the world are in steep decline, and when we look deep into our souls, I don’t think we actually want different things. I think we need to do a better job at communicating as if we were friends, a less dysfunctional family, and finding a way to let people get on with their lives when they do things that upset us.

There are going to be a lot of blurred lines, and some that aren’t. We are going to have to compromise. What is most important is that we are going to have to learn to respect and love each other. Love is the most important thing in this world. 

A lot of people are angry. When people are angry, they express it in different ways. People who did not get a lot of opportunities in life, especially for generations, like basic health care, education, quality food, housing, they would not have had the resources to seek assistance like those who have. There is deep anger surrounding that, defeat, fear, and a profound, gnawing, sadness knowing it might not be in their lifetime their dreams are realised. More than anything, they want an equivalent shot at life. It is not that they are not hardworking, intelligent, capable people, they just need to be given the tools to have a fresh start, tailor-made to them.

I am angry too. Let me tell you about some of the aspects of my identity. These are things that impact me physically and socially. I have a disease that is like cancer, have had it since I was born. It is called Klippel Trenaunay Syndrome. I also have a severe pain disorder called CRPS, am Autistic (like Aspergers,) I am Latinx (my mother is Cuban,) I am a (very liberal) Muslim convert, and I am nonbinary transgender, which is like being gender neutral.* 

You might hear this and have a lot of reactions. I have heard them all; it’s alright. If I had not told you, you would not know. We could have gotten to know each other. I would have told you that I am involved in nonprofit work. Before my illness got to a certain point, I was a Museum Educator. (Teaching is my passion!) I used to professionally sing, I have cats who are my life, I left my heart in California and Melbourne, Australia, and family is everything to me. Yes, my identities define me, but so does everything else in my life. It is all important.

We might fundamentally disagree about some things, like abortion. I’d like to tell you about how heartbreaking my experience was. Like I said, my disease is exceptionally rare. I have a hard time getting insurance approval for basic things because they don’t know how to medically code my diseases. I was pregnant once, and I wanted the baby. Elevated hormone levels can create new tumours in my body and put me at increased risk. I cannot be on birth control either, due to the hormone issue. Being pregnant, unless under strict supervision, could have made me a lot more sick or killed me. I read about some sad cases and only knew of a couple friends with successful pregnancies. They had to get injections to make sure everything was okay.

Because of the nature of my situation, I was not able to get that kind of medical care, and due to all of my conditions, I am on a lot of medications that would have seriously harmed the baby as well. This baby was made with someone I love a lot, but I had to make the decision to terminate. I didn’t know I was pregnant for months because I was so sick and skinny. At two months I was 87 lbs, maybe at three 90. The abortion occurred at around four. I am sad every day and dream about the family I could have had.

I don’t think you would want to hurt me or other people like me, despite the picketers chanting on the day of my procedure. There are a lot of issues, not just abortion, where a lot of harsh words are exchanged, lives are lost, jobs are lost, relationships ruined, and we just aren’t reaching each other. Can we stop calling each other names and accusing each other by political party? It feels like we all should be in time out.

If we really do want to make this country, this world, a better place, we -have- to put our pride behind us. We will need to figure out how to respect each other. When my ex-partner and I, who is my current best friend, were in a fight one time, I asked her whenever she was really angry if she could please try to remember the love we shared. Later, she went and bought a bracelet that said “LOVE” so she could look at it as a very physical reminder. I’ll never forget it. 

When you feel like there is someone you could never possibly understand and you feel anger, fear, or annoyance towards them, could you do something for me? Could you try to imagine them as the person you love the most? Maybe your mother, son, wife, husband, best friend...they want you to understand them. They want to be accepted. They are scared, too. We all are. We need to be in this together, solving problems with many, open minds.

Love and Light

Sorel Estrada Volpe

*(I was assigned female at birth, but “nonbinary” is my gender, AKA out of the gender binary. Instead of she/her/hers pronouns, I use they/them/their/theirs pronouns. I realise this is an issue many people think is silly or insignificant. Feel free to fact check me, this is a normal things that has been going on for many years. Check out these links to learn more:

Non-binary or genderqueer genders by Christina Richards et al

^This is an academic article

"Genderqueer" Wikipedia Entry

The Handbook of Gender in Archaeology: Chapter 13, The Archaeology of Nonbinary Genders in Native North American Societies, pg 435

Here are some wonderful introductions to issues about race to those who might not have approached the issue previously, need a refresher, or anyone who wants something enlightening to watch:

10 TED Classroom Resources About Race in America

I have a lot of resources here about disability on this blog, my podcast, our Instagram, our Facebook, our Youtube, and our sponsors. You should also check out The Mighty where we were recently featured. To see everywhere we have been featured, visit our Pinterest.

This one is personal, but if you'd like to learn a little about Cuba, this is a nice documentary.