Wednesday, March 6, 2013

B61. How Much for that Political Label?

Pick a hot-button issue.  It doesn’t matter which one.  Any issue that divides the country, the state, the community, or the workplace, with a large number of people adamant on both sides.  Undocumented immigrants, opening government meetings with prayer, gay marriage, gun control, education vouchers, abortion, religion in the public schools, overcrowded prisons, environmental concerns, interpreting the constitution, . . .

Now, where do you stand on your issue, and then, more importantly, what do you think of the people who are on the other side?

If you or I see any divisive issue as 100% black and white, clearly right and wrong; if we see all those who disagree with us as ridiculous, or stupid, or religious idiots, or lost souls; then we, you and I, might not have a full understanding of the issue, perhaps because all the sources we listen to (websites, tv and radio stations, spouse, friends, church) are getting their information from each other.  We are missing at least half the issue.

The sign that we understand both sides of an issue is not that we switch sides, but rather that we can see and interact with the people on the other side as equally valued human beings, and can accept that disagreeing with us does not in itself make someone an idiot.

The more probable truth is that both sides have intelligent people, not-so-intelligent people, religious people, non-religious people, well-meaning people, mean-spirited people, valid points, sensationalist arguments, people who care for the rest of the world, and people who care only about themselves; and every one of us, every single one, is ignorant about far more in the world than we will ever understand. 

What we are lacking is a strong group in the middle, made up of both sides, people who care enough to listen and learn from each other, who can lay their politics aside in favor of making a better world for our children, our grandchildren, and strangers we will never meet, far and near. 

As a society, have we lost the maturity to say “I don’t understand everything, and I don’t have all the answers”?  Are we even capable of stopping the stone throwing and trying to really hear both sides?  Have we, you and I, traded our common sense, our integrity, our kindergarten-learned ability to play well with others, for a political label?  Have we?  What a label that must be, for such a trade.


J. Moyer said...

There is truth in what you say. But that is one thing that makes America so great. We can agree to disagree, respect people's opinions and ideas. In some countries they can't do that.

Kathy Vestal said...

Hi J. Thanks for reading and commenting. I wonder if you are seeing "agree to disagree" at work in our current political climate, either nationally or locally. I'm mostly seeing hatred, bitterness, and name-calling; family members snubbing family members. I agree with you that "agreeing to disagree" is the ideal scenario, and I hope my view is skewed.