Over Thanksgiving, I was hiking with my brother-in-law when he commented that he only knew two kinds of people: those who loved Sarah Palin and those who hated her. Nobody was in the gray zone. While I didn't consider myself a "hater," I also knew that she had triggered intense reactions in me when she joined the Republican ticket. After Obama's victory, the fear of her becoming President subsided along with the negative charge, but I had to confess to a lingering prejudice beneath the surface.
One week later, I bought her autobiography, Going Rogue. Why? To dissolve my own prejudice and to better understand how we as a culture can go beyond the extreme political polarizations that have so paralyzed our country. What I know from years of psychological and spiritual explorations is that whenever we judge or fight something in the world, there is an aspect of ourselves that we are battling against. In creating walls of separation in the world, we reinforce them within ourselves, which is ultimately to our detriment.
I truly believe that everyone has their divine role to play in the world, even those with very different politics, beliefs, and values. While I have held that truth, though, I still had a visceral reaction to Palin - a sure signal that some work remains.
So reading Going Rogue was something of a test for myself - could I find the place of appreciation, respect, and even love for Sarah Palin?
What I found is that it wasn't really that hard, actually, simply by taking the time to meet her on her own turf rather than through sounds bites, spin, and polarized media battles. Reading someone's personal memoir is an intimate journey into their inner sanctum, and I developed a real appreciation for Sarah in reading the book. Aspects of her that seemed coarse, simplistic, or combative during the campaign were revealed to be a product of frontier values and growing up in a culture that is faced with subzero temperatures and constant tests of survival.
Her journey from high school basketball captain to Governor revealed itself as an impressive triumph of hard work, resiliency, and willingness to challenge the status quo. Many of the most caricatured and vilified aspects of her history turned out to be lopsided depictions and sometimes gross misrepresentations. (continues here at Huffington Post)