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  • Jerome Kocher

#10. A Circle of Seven.

This is more personal. In the oppressive isolation due to the Covid virus and the divisive political rhetoric since the election, I have lost friends, family and even more. Luckily, I don’t know anyone close who has died of Covid. But I do know people who have been consumed by a venomous hatred for Trump. And in that environment there is no foundation for a rational, let alone calm discussion. I’m branded as the racist, misogynist, xenophobe . . . and now White supremacist, conspiracy crazy person. It doesn’t leave much room for discourse. If the other side had a question for me, it was not about what I thought, but rather “how did I become . . . so wrong! What happened to Jerome?”

The isolation became so heavy. I just wanted to talk without the aura of hatred poisoning every guarded comment. After weeks and weeks, I finally found a “moment of grace” and inspiration. I needed to find and renew seven friendships with whom I could have a rational and caring conversation. Some had been colleagues at high school before I retired as a teacher this year. Others I had not spoken with for years and the connection went back five decades. With some, we differed on politics, with others we could rant together. But with all, we could talk genuinely about events in our lives outside of politics. I could finally talk with people I actually knew and cared about, instead of thinking about public figures I have never met and who didn’t even know I existed.

I had created a Circle of Seven. My first Circle with more to follow. But the premise remains the same. A rational caring conversation. Like a gentle rain that brings out a delicate carpet of green, these connections brought stability and levity back into my life. They were more real than any podcast or media show. First of all, because it was a two-way conversation. And second of all, there was nothing to prove, nothing to convince the other of, it was just sharing with an open mind. As simple as it sounds, it was a radical improvement in my emotional health.

I encourage anyone to create their own circle of seven. In these times of cultural secession and canceling of relationships, my circle created a “more perfect union” with myself and the world around me.

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