ASK AMY: Neighbors worry about divisive flag


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Dear Amy: We have lived next door to a very good neighbor for almost 30 years. « Charles » is helpful and friendly, and we really like him.

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His political opinions are 180 degrees different from ours.

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So far that hasn’t been a problem, as we have lots of other things to discuss (gardening, family, etc.) and we’ve kept our opinions to ourselves.

The problem is that he hung a large flag (replacing the worn-out original with an even bolder new one) a few feet from our garden fence. This flag contains a message representing ideals that are abhorrent to us.

No profanity – just divisive and hurtful implications. I don’t think it’s an intentional attack on us or anything like that.


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We cannot avoid seeing it and hearing it flapping in the wind whenever we are in our yard. It extends up to about 10 feet off the ground, so it cannot be hidden from view. (No other neighbor can see it.)

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Visitors to our house commented, “What do you think of this flag? « I could get rid of it for you – haha », etc.

My husband and I don’t want to lose Charles’ friendship or ruin what has been a good relationship for years.

But it is very upsetting to me – a constant reminder of the ugly divisions in our country.

I find myself avoiding my own yard (and feeling bad about my neighbor).

What do you recommend?

– Torn up

Dear Torn: You don’t provide any details about this flag – nor do you say what your personal policy is – so I’m determined to consider this issue from a broad spectrum.

(I assume that this flag does not contain words or symbols that could incite violence, but represents ideas or values ​​in direct opposition to your own.)

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You also don’t seem to have ever asked your neighbor if he could move the flag to another spot in his yard, so it wouldn’t be flapping so distractedly near yours.

We live in a country where everyone is free to let their weird flag fly, and where people like you and your neighbor can live cordially and peacefully side by side – everyone free to speak up, or keep quiet, if that’s what you prefer to do.

Your options are to fly your own flag or banner, express your own opinions directly or indirectly through a multitude of media, or exercise your own freedom to keep your own thoughts to yourself.

I can’t tell you how you feel, but you might feel differently if you could reframe that. « Tolerance » is a challenge to tolerate the free speech of others, even if you find their real opinions abhorrent.

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So when friends ask you what you think of your neighbor’s flag, you can reply, « Well, every day when I see it, I’m bound to appreciate the First Amendment. » So – God bless America!

Dear Amy: Recently, there was an issue of infidelity (on my part) between my husband and me.

We are working on our marriage and things seem to be going much better.

When it first happened he turned to his friends quite upset and the majority of them blocked me etc.

His best friend doesn’t talk to me much anymore, but I reached out to him to let him know that I love him and his girlfriend and don’t want to lose them and hope they don’t hate me.

He replied, stating that he is not judgmental until he gives her time to see how my husband is feeling.

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When it comes time for me to see them (they all live out of state), do you have any tips for not feeling uncomfortable, awkward or scared?

I’m afraid they’ll hate me and look at me with hate all the time.

– Nervous

Dear Nervous: Your husband’s best friend answered you honestly and responsibly. You also handled this meeting well.

Other than that, it’s important for you and your husband to make it clear that you’re fixing your relationship, but otherwise the inner workings of your marriage will remain private.

Dear Amy: « Had Enough » wrote to you about her daughter being rejected by her high school friends, causing her to drop out of school.

This weakness is what is wrong with this country today.

You should have called her; instead, you pampered her.

– Disappointed

Dear disappointed: I don’t think “calling out” a vulnerable person is necessarily helpful.

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