By Doug Strickel
I think everyone would agree that there is a great deal of division in our country today. This division is apparent on a national, state, and even local level. It seems that many people are embracing a far right or far left view of things. Political party affiliation seems to dictate how elected officials vote in many cases. People are shaping their lives and identities around their conservative or progressive positions and apparently are expected to choose a side representing one extreme or the other. Once these sides are determined, communication becomes hostile, listening to the other side is no longer valued, and walls are built. These walls of division limit the opportunity for discussion, reasoning, listening, and compromise.
We have seen periods of division and lack of unity before, but with the current social media outlets, and the apparent power of the national media, the impact of this division can lead to a very real threat to the sovereignty of our nation. History tells us that internal division not handled well can be more damaging than an external threat. Many of our “external threats” are actively sowing seeds of division in our nation for this very purpose. Why would these external threats go to the trouble of military or economic aggression when they can subtly sow seeds of division for us to crumble within?
We need to be in the business of bridge building not wall building today with respect to our personal interactions with others. People have the right to their views on issues and should always hold firm to their convictions, but we also need everyone to accept the fact that others may have different views. People come from different backgrounds with different experiences and will often see things differently. When we can disagree on a matter but still show respect for the other person, we build that bridge. When we have a different view on an issue but are willing to listen to someone with an opposing view, we build that bridge. When we are willing to seek to understand where another is coming from on an issue, we can better understand their motivation, and we build a bridge.
We need leaders at the national, state, and local levels to return to being statesmen/stateswomen and not purely political party representatives. We need leaders to set the tone for the rest of the nation and seek to serve and do what’s best for the nation rather than positioning for power. We need humble men and women willing to listen to one another, to engage in hard conversations, and to make decisions in the best interest of those they are leading. We need to start building bridges of communication and stop constructing walls of division.
Don’t forgo your rights to your thoughts, opinions, and views on issues, but respect others, listen to others, and accept the fact that we will have differences at times. Diversity in thoughts and ideas can either make us better or destroy us. It will all come down to how we treat one another. It’s not always about proving we are right or winning a debate. Why not build some bridges today, and let’s seek what’s best for everyone involved?