How does a nation of 330 million people with diverse backgrounds, cultures and political views heal and move forward together peacefully?
This great nation has been extremely polarized for quite some time now, and it seems to be getting worse each year. I attribute this to two main causes:
- …social media, which magnifies many of our differences while making it far too easy to disrespectfully engage with each other. We are far more civil when chatting with our fellow humans face-to-face than through a screen.
- …growing government power. The more power a government wields the greater the impact politicians can have on our lives. If someone we don’t like gets elected to office the potential negative impact on our lives is much greater (whether perceived or real). In other words, the more power a politician holds the more that is at stake in each election, which naturally exacerbates our differences, fears and insecurities, and leads to greater polarization and heightened tensions.
Note: This is why it is SO important that government power be as localized as possible. The Founding Fathers understood this deeply and intended for the powers of the federal government to be strictly enumerated.
Not much can be done about #1. Social media has become so intertwined in our daily lives it is not going away. Of course, people can choose to leave social media, but that does not change the fact that it’s still there with millions of other users around the nation.
There is a way to consciously reduce polarization and ease tensions and it has to do with HOW we approach conversations with other people. Let me explain…
Personally, I love to engage in discussions about serious topics that actually matter. I’m energized and invigorated by such discussions and am quickly bored by superficial small talk. However, you can also see how this could lead to conflict. After all, didn’t they used to teach us to avoid discussing politics, religion and money?
However, the approach I take in these discussions is NOT to speak in terms of Republican and Democrat or Trump voter vs. Biden voter. This myopic focus on these imperfect classifications only serves to place people in imperfect groups making it easier to divide and polarize while making it far more difficult to find common ground.
Besides, I have found that many Republicans don’t necessarily align with all the “official” stances of the Republican party and many Democrats don’t align with all the official stances of the Democratic party. I almost always find there is far more nuance than that.
The nuance is where the opportunity lies to heal, unite and find common ground. Also, there appears to be far less sensitivity when discussing a very specific issue or policy as opposed to attacking a group as a whole (e.g. party affiliation) or a person (e.g. the President). I find common ground with both Democrats and Republicans depending on the issue.
So, I find it far more productive to speak about specific policies, issues, and governing philosophies. This sort of granular discussion makes it easier to leave emotion and subjectivity at the door while inviting much more objectivity and compromise.
Hopefully, as the election winds down in the coming weeks/months and the holidays ramp up we are able to create the necessary time and space with friends and family to explore our commonalities and rebuild from there.
Whoever our politicians end up being in the future, I wish them ALL the absolute best for the sake of country.
I appreciate all of you very much for your attention and support. My best to you and your families in this holiday season.