Why has our nation reached such a state of division?
The days leading up to and after the 2018 midterm elections were typical. Social media was flooded with people throwing their support behind candidates and urging you to vote. As was expected, there were also people spewing hate towards anything and anyone that didn’t align with their beliefs.
I, like most people, have a multitude of opinions when it comes to politics and social issues. I want to steer clear of those though. I want to understand why it is that we hate each other so much. Why has our nation become dangerously partisan?
We live in a world where online social connections are plenty. Finding a community in which you feel welcome and understood is easier than it has ever been. The internet gives all of us a powerful voice.
The building of these communities is a wonderful thing, but it comes with some bad side effects. In the process of connecting with people who share the same interests and beliefs as us, we distance ourselves from those that do not. The internet gives all of us a voice, yet we use it to try to silence those that do not echo our own.
We have become so comfortable with our beliefs that we see it as a threat when someone doesn’t agree with us. We respond with anger because we know we have an army of people who will back us up. We have developed an “I’m right, you’re wrong” type of mentality. So, of course it is easy to hate each other when we no longer put in the effort to try and understand each other.
Everyone is on the defensive, and politicians are our pawns. I don’t believe that we are a reflection of our politicians, rather our politicians are a reflection of ourselves and how we behave in society. We use politics as a scapegoat for our unwillingness to be accepting of those that are different from us.
We encourage people to vote, but only for those that we would vote for. We hear the word “Democrat” or “Republican” and we run for the hills. We refuse to associate.
I refuse to succumb to the idea that this political battle is one between good and evil. Yes, there are horrible people out there spreading violence and genuine hate, but most of us are generally good. We are just so caught up in the sensationalism of this generation that we are convinced everyone that doesn’t agree with us is evil.
I think as a nation we need to be more open to the challenging of our ideas. We need to be more accepting of the notion that we might be wrong. We need to learn how to respectfully debate rather than shut others down. To assume that we know what is best for everyone is foolish, such a thing doesn’t exist.
As long as we believe that our problems can only be solved by our chosen party winning control over the House, the Senate, or the presidency, we will always lose. Yes, voting is important, but if we don’t realize that the true power to create change comes from our day to day interactions with people from all walks of life, we will continue to grow more and more divided.
This isn’t to say that we need to abandon our beliefs. Our differences make us stronger, they make us adaptable. We just need to stop looking at our differences as a threat.