It’s that time again in America. A time for debates, anger, hatred, spite, and failure to listen. A time of entitlement, squabbling and a cult-like zeal. The presidential election is upon us. I know, technically that doesn’t happen until the end of next year, but that doesn’t matter because things start years before the actual event.
People will traverse the mean streets of Twitter and boldly proclaim what everyone else is,yet pat themselves on the back for “taking a stance.” Arguments erupt between family and friends, sometimes severing relationships forever simply due to a difference in perspective. If “my team” does or says something wrong, we look the other way but if “they” do it then we are appalled and metaphorically lynch the candidate or family member in the process.
We don’t listen but instead prefer to talk at everyone around us, and believe in our core that if our side loses it will be the end, despite the fact that this has been said by nearly every generation since the country’s inception. Those who disagree are labeled as evil instead of simply seeing the world differently or perhaps being uninformed.
Negative labels are thrown about in order to shut down the other side and enable some to not think. Some crave for less freedom and call out to those running for president to make them feel safe in exchange for their liberty. Abhorrent ideas are celebrated just because of a “team” a politician ascribes to while good ideas cannot be acknowledged by some.
This is just a small taste, a summary of what transpires every couple years in America. When the election finally does happen half the country cries and wails, declaring the end is nigh. Elections are important, but we must maintain perspective. Presidents should not be idolized or looked to so solve all our problems. They shouldn’t be expected to promise us the world, and if they do it would be wise to place them under further scrutiny.
We must remember that being truly American is about liberty, not comfort. Liberty always comes at a price, just like free will. Your good actions have good consequences, the same goes for your bad ones, that doesn’t mean that that choice should be stripped away. Presidential candidates and Presidents alike have developed a fandom which is often toxic and brutal, replete with confirmation bias and lack of empathy further contributing to the divide in the nation. We often act as sycophants while forgetting these people have power in the first place because they sought it.
We cannot control how other people think or react, but we can control ourselves. If you are an American or live in a western democracy, I implore you to take more time to understand those with differing views. You don’t have to like the ideas, you don’t have to agree, but civil discussion goes further than shouting and labeling does. Words like “racist” should be used sparingly and wisely, not flippantly.
Also, let us remember that these are human beings we are interacting with, this reminder especially pertains to the internet. Most people who disagree aren’t evil. That isn’t me saying truth is relative but acknowledging that the human experience is. Often times we believe things in spite of truth due to emotions, upbringing, etc.
My hope is that no matter how small the group is, some will try to use logic and empathy over emotions in this upcoming election. My hope is that more families will not divide, no more friendships will be lost due to each voting their conscience. More importantly, instead of getting sanctimonious, we should all reexamine our own beliefs and why we hold them so dear. Only when our convictions are tested by fire can they stand.