Ask Amy: Neighborhood relationship strained over divisive political flag –

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.

Their political views are 180 degrees different from ours.

It hasn’t been a problem so far, as we have plenty of other things to talk about (gardening, family, etc.), and we’ve kept our opinions to ourselves.

The problem is, he’s hung a large flag (replacing the worn-out original with a new, even bolder model) a few feet from our yard fence. This flag contains a message that represents ideals that are hateful to us.

No profanity, just divisive and damaging implications. I don’t think it’s a deliberate attack on us or anything like that.

We can’t help but see it and hear it flapping in the wind every time we’re in our yard. It extends about 10 feet off the ground, so it can’t be blocked from view. (No other neighbors can see it.)

Visitors to our home have commented, “What do you think of this flag?” “I could get rid of that for you – haha” etc.

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

But this really bothers me: a constant reminder of the ugly divisions in our country.

I find myself avoiding my own garden (and feeling bad for my neighbor).

What is your advice?

– Torn

Dear Torn: You don’t provide any details about this flag, or say what your personal politics are, so I’m determined to imagine this issue from a broad spectrum.

(I am assuming that this flag does not contain words or a symbol that may incite violence, but represents ideas or values ​​in direct opposition to yours.)

It also doesn’t sound like you ever asked your neighbor if he could move the flag somewhere else in his yard, so it wasn’t flapping so distractedly near yours.

We live in a country where everybody is free to fly his strange flag, and where people like you and your neighbor can live cordially and peacefully side by side, each free to express himself, or to remain silent, if that is what you prefer to do.

Your options are to fly your own flag or banner, express your own views 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 it. “Tolerance” is a challenge to tolerate the free speech of others, even if their actual views are repugnant.

And so, when friends ask you what you think of your neighbor’s flag, you can say, “Well, every day when I see it, I’m forced to appreciate the First Amendment. So God bless America!

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

We are working on our marriage and things seem to be getting a lot better.

When it first happened, he went at his friends pretty upset and got most of them to block me, etc.

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

She responded, stating that she is not making any judgment calls until she gives her time to see how my husband feels.

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

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

– Nervous

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

Other than that, it’s important that both you and your husband convey that you are repairing your relationship, but that otherwise the inner workings of your marriage will remain private.

Dear Amy: Had Enough wrote to you about her daughter, whose high school friends rejected her, 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” on a vulnerable person is necessarily helpful.

You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.

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