The inauguration ceremony just wrapped up, but many Americans feel the nightmare is just beginning. About the same number of citizens, think they have finally been heard. How in the world can this nation find a way forward when one half disdains, belittles, and shuts out the other half, and common sense and respectful discourse are no longer fashionable?
People are more important than politics. We must find a way to get along with our neighbors, friends, and family members who don’t share our opinions. It’s time to stop overreacting to people who have the nerve to disagree with us on something. It is amazing how hateful and wrong we can be in condemning what we think is hateful and wrong in others. We don’t always get our way. Your disagreeing neighbor has the same right to his opinion as you do yours. We can show him respect and look for the opportunity to learn and understand, and not just convince and correct.
Open-mindedness is more helpful than self righteousness. One person, one party, one philosophy is highly unlikely to have the best ideas on every single issue all the time. Many of us have felt the full thrust of self righteous behavior that is simply hateful and unreasonable. Open mindedness does not mean abandoning your convictions. It does not equate to being wishy-washy. It means we examine our own positions and we carefully consider the opinions of others. It means we think for ourselves and refuse to follow the spin of politics and the media.
Respectful discourse is more productive than hit-and-run accusations. Anybody can find the most ridiculous example from an opposing perspective and complain. That’s easy. What’s hard is sitting down and talking frankly to someone who thoughtfully approaches an issue from another perspective. What’s hard is loving that person as a person. What’s hard is listening and learning. What’s hard is finding common ground. What’s hard in finding a way to move forward together.
Our country has weathered wars, including civil war, great swings in political power, and being on the wrong side of history on a number of issues. We have dealt with too many bad presidents, congressmen, senators, judges, and administrators, and the nation has survived. All is not won or lost with a transfer of power.
Yet, I fear that if we abandon our duty to be involved in the system or loose our desire to have respectful discourse, we will be in very deep trouble.