Marta is 20 years old and recently moved to California from Venezuela. Although her two sisters, mother, and father moved to the US with her, most of her family is still in Venezuela and she worries about them every day.

Marta has recently started dating an American boy named Casey. Since she didn’t know anyone when she first moved to the US, Casey, who is 25, became her best friend and boyfriend. Now, Casey’s political beliefs are beginning to be a problem in their relationship.

Casey identifies as a communist, something Marta struggles to understand considering the economic and political situation she just escaped from. Whenever Marta brings up what she has seen in her own country, Casey tells her that she doesn’t understand socialism. Marta feels that this is condescending. In Venezuela, Marta’s father was a surgeon, so Casey tells her she can’t understand because she comes from a privileged family. This is hard for Marta to believe, considering the stories she hears from her family every week.

It has gotten to the point where Marta is offended by the things Casey says to her. To her, Casey is a middle class, college educated white man, so she has trouble seeing the oppression that he claims to have suffered. Meanwhile he tells her, an immigrant from Latin America, that she is too privileged to understand his political beliefs.

Today, Marta and Casey got into another fight about politics. Marta does not know what her political beliefs are, but she feels that Casey is pressing his on her too much. She is eager to learn, but does not feel that she should just believe whatever Casey tells her. When she argues with him or brings up stories from her own past, Casey often becomes frustrated and yells at her, which makes her feel like he does not hear her or respect her. Worse, Casey got into a fight with Marta’s father about politics today too. Marta was taught to respect her parents above all else, so for her this may be the final straw with Casey, although she doesn’t want to admit that politics have come between her and someone that she loves.

Is it ever ok to let politics come between two people? Are Casey and Marta’s issues about politics or respect? When have you failed to respect someone else’s beliefs or experiences? Do you consider compassion to be part of your political values?

Amit kumar