How to Have Compassion In An Era Of Political Polarization
Image Credits: SAMUIL_LEVICH VIA THINKSTOCK
It seems that everything is divisive nowadays – everything. From music to movies to football, nothing remains apolitical. The politics in this country become more hate-filled and polarizing each day. The opposite ends of the political spectrum loathe each other and silence the reasoned moderates who don’t. This day-in, day-out battle quickly gets depressing.
So how can we fix it? How can we as a nation come together and remember that we are more similar than different? What’s the best way to put aside our opinions and realize that not everything has to divide us? How can we rediscover the spirit that makes this country great but is rapidly fading from our nation? Below are a few changes we can all easily make to be part of the solution. While these alone will not entirely heal our nation’s wounds, they can certainly help.
We must remember that not everything should be politicized.
Of course, using one’s voice and platform to speak out on issues that matter should be commended. However, making sure this is done at the appropriate time and place is crucial. For example, family holidays are not the time to yell about tax policy. Football games are not the place to argue about immigration laws. Debate will only change minds when it is healthy and desired by all parties involved.
We cannot silence moderate, reasoned voices from either side.
Should we respectfully listen to everyone, no matter how vehemently we disagree with them? Yes. But sometimes we tend to elevate to a platform of people on the political fringes who simply yell at the base of the party. Republicans should not always elevate those who scream outside abortion clinics, constantly decry the need for any environmental and criminal justice reforms, or demand deportation for all undocumented immigrants. Democrats need not elevate those who use vulgarity as their means of activism, call everyone with whom they disagree bigoted, or shut down opposing ideas.
Silence on issues such as racism, misogyny, misandry, and xenophobia is not enough; we must actively speak out against all kinds of divisiveness. While this seems easy enough, putting reasoned people on a pedestal alone will not cure our nation’s ails. We must live out the kindness that we argue must exist. As individuals, we must make the conscious choice to try to understand points of view different from our own. All the heated arguments in the world will never change a person’s opinion; only productive, passionate discussions in which both sides are heard will make a real difference. There is no amount of yelling or name-calling or ad hominem attacks that can truly do any good. Civility is crucial in cultivating compassion.
Living compassionately in our day-to-day lives is the best way to remedy political polarization.
If you spend enough time volunteering at homeless shelters, visiting residents of retirement communities, sharing your faith, mentoring children, or participating in other humanitarian activities, you’ll soon remember that politics are not the most important thing in life. It can be easy for a politico to forget that not everyone spends their time watching C-SPAN and tweet storming every White House decision. Take a step back and realize that people are more than their political views.
It’s time for hyperpartisanship and tribalism to end. Let’s take the high road and choose to respect everyone, regardless of our differences.
Katie is a liberty-loving follower of Jesus residing in sunny North Carolina. She strives to empower young women to become leaders and activists for important causes. She loves crafting ideas and proving points and competes in debate and mock trial. Outside of politics, she enjoys music, dance, good books, and good tea.
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