It seems like, the closer we get to November, the more divided we seem as a nation over the next President of these United States. You can’t look at social media for more than three minutes without scrolling by some form of vitriol directed at one candidate or the other. There are people shouting about supposed wrongs that Hillary committed in her time serving our government, and there are those shouting about Trump’s history as a businessman and whether or not he’d be a viable candidate to lead our nation.
The qualification of either of these candidates is not my concern. I think, sadly, we as a nation have come to a time when so, so few people can afford to, or even be qualified in any realistic sense, to run for President that it’s hard for most of us as voters to relate to anyone who winds up on the ballot. I cannot imagine the life of a billionaire real estate mogul, or the life of a former First Lady. Truthfully, I can’t relate to either candidate. They both live in a very different America from the one I inhabit.
And if you think that something that you write or say, either in person, on a blog or on social media might open minds or affect change… just try going up to a staunch Hillary or Trump supporter and having a conversation… starting an argument for the opposite candidate. The kind ones will be silent and let you finish before telling you that you’re wrong. The not-so-kind-ones, well…
It’s healthy and important that we have groups in this country who are passionate about politics and intent on supporting their chosen candidate. That’s the lifeblood of a thriving democracy.
My concern is that we’ve stopped listening to one another. My concern is that we’ve made up our minds, based on opinions and and facts that… let’s face it… most of us “choose,” and we’re sticking to our guns.
My concern is that conversation has stopped. My concern is that we are no longer being polite, civil and respectful of one another.
A conversation isn’t two people waiting for the other to finish so that he or she can rebuke the claims or let loose a long-winded list of reasons for why that person is wrong. A conversation isn’t one person hollering at the top of his or her lungs about everything that they believe to be true based on the information they’ve sought out and attained. A conversation is not two people yelling at one another about the others’ faults, shortcomings or missteps.
A conversation involves listening, considering, and responding. A conversation involves the exchange of ideas that… perhaps most importantly, we are always willing to change based on new information.
If there is one essential element for this nation’s, or any nation’s, survival, it is conversation. We must respect, listen to, and respond to the ideas being put forth.
What would we say about a mother who ignored her son or daughter’s complaints, wishes or ideas? What would we say about a spouse who just waited for the other to finish so he or she might correct them, or worse yet, ignore them completely?
What scares me about this election is that we are not one country, talking openly about the ideas being considered, talking about what is at stake… talking to, and more importantly… listening to.. one another about the country’s future.
We seem like a nation divided, having chosen our side, contented to yell across party lines at the other voters about why they are wrong, or why their candidate is corrupt.
We have two major political parties in this country (and God bless him, the once-in-a-decade Bernie-Sanders types who come along to ignite the nation’s youth) and in that respect we are like a marriage between two people who, while different, respect one another because at their core they value the same things.
I don’t think you need to be a relationship expert or a marriage counsellor to know what eventually happens when two people stop talking to, and more importantly listening to, one another.
After this election is over and we place a new President in the White House, some things will change, but many things won’t. Most importantly, we will still all live in this nation, we’ll still all call this country home. In many respects, we’ll still be neighbors, fighting for and believing in many of the same things.
So perhaps it’s in our best interest… right now, until November 8th, and even after then… to politely listen to one another about the issues we’re concerned with and the changes we’d like to see.