Things are getting out of hand. On the list of things I never imagined I’d experience, a civil war is up there. Tension between the Democrats and the Republicans has always been there, it was taken to a new level during the 2016 Presidential Election, and it is at an all time high since the death of George Floyd. Families are fractured, friendships tarnished, all due to the gravity of these differing opinions. So today I am not going to talk about politics, I am going to talk about people.
In 2017, I was studying abroad with my University when we stopped in Northern Ireland for three lectures. One with a Protestant, one with a Catholic, and a third with the both of them. They spoke about their region’s social issues and severe pain it has caused. For the sake of a brief background, the Protestants are happy being a part of Britain and the Catholics wish to rejoin the Republic of Ireland. This disagreement resulted in numerous violent riots including its most famous one referred to as Bloody Sunday, killing 13 individuals and wounding 17, in addition to twenty five feet tall peace walls segregating the capital city. When it came time for questions I asked how they plan to move forward, and what they hope to achieve. They had no answer. These passionate warriors for their causes had been fighting to keep the other’s agenda at bay for so long the goal of resolution was never formed. A doe eyed freshman followed my question with one that I felt was awfully uneducated, stating, “America is in a position much like yours, do you have any advice?’’ Again, they had no answer, but what stood out to me was the falsity of her statement. America wasn’t nearly as divisive as this province, although now I see some glaring similarities and thus, I am fearful.
My issue is that we are engaging in propaganda combat. One news source comes out saying their version of the truth, whilst making sure to highlight all the evil ways the other side is operating, and vice versa. Our country is acting like absolute truths are not as rare as they are. There is right and wrong in every situation. Sometimes there is more done right than wrong, and again, vice versa. It is incredibly damaging to merely pluck the details that assist one’s personal or party’s agenda and white-out the rest. I believe that if both sides would halt this practice our country would finally be able to have an honest conversation, consisting of humility, apologies, and beneficial ideas that can lead to a civilized middle ground.
When I worked as a legislative intern I engaged in a conversation with another bright intern about our thoughts on abortion. We spoke with smiles because we were at ease with each other and enjoyed the jazz that comes from a well researched conversation between two open minded individuals. We disagreed on the notion that the act was right or wrong, but we moved on from there detailing our supporting reasons. By the end of our discussion neither of us felt strongly enough to change our previous belief of whether it is inherently right or wrong, but we did leave each other with numerous, “I can see your point” and “I never thought of it that way.” Interestingly enough, even after that positive, lengthy discussion about one of the most divisive political topics, my friend was shocked and upset when he found out what political party I am a member of. I watched in his eyes how all the stereotypical tropes that accompany that affiliation began to download into his brain. This was upsetting to me because suddenly everything he knows about me is unfairly in question. I do not think this is said enough: when one registers with a political party at the age of eighteen, all you can do is choose the one that you agree with most. You will never agree with everything, and you can’t help who runs for office under that same name. I believe that the best person for the job is rarely the one who acquires the title because elections often, if not always, turn deceitful, disrespectful, with traces of guile dripping off most every word.
I am passionate about my theory that Republicans and Democrats generally want the same thing. I am not talking about the radical members of either party, but the everyday citizen. We all operate with empathy. We want people down on their luck to be able to thrive, we want individuals who are hurt to receive help, and we wish love and safety on all those we encounter, and for that I love my country. The sole difference being the avenue in which we believe people should get there. I do not believe this is cause for unrelenting slander, violence, or hostility. This is an opportunity for sincere discussion and brainstorming. I trust Abraham Lincoln’s words turned warning, “a house divided cannot stand.” I fear this is our fate, and I would be remiss if when history inevitably tells our tale all it will show is a picture of grown adults squeezing their eyes shut, while plugging their ears. Our country is in disarray, despite the party you belong to, that is something we can all agree on. Now is the time to dust off the problem solving skills we are taught from infancy, and start the conversation, not in hopes of proving the other wrong and becoming a viral social media hero, or pushing personal agendas. It is imperative that we seek to understand, and allow others’ words some pondering. It is prideful to deem one people villainous and the other victors. Seldom is that the clear cut case. Change is necessary, and so is tossing out the aforementioned thought process.