The following is the result of me trying to sort out my emotions 'on paper," as writers tend to do. I'm too bottled up with it all, so I'm finally popping the cork! It's not an invitation to attack--as that would completely not gel with the point of the post in the first place. Polite, respectful discourse is welcome. Love, Danica
These times are hard. I wind up yelling at myself almost daily for reading comment threads on political stories. They only distress me. Yet I can't seem to stop in a attempt to try to understand where people are coming from. Instead, I wind up so tired of the hostility, so sick of ignorance, so frightened over how our news sources (every last one of them) require us to research further, comparing and contrasting them with other sources for some semblance of a big picture. As if the lot of us have time for that. I don't. And I harshly remind myself of that each time I fall victim to another comment thread. There was a time when news was cut and dry and boring--and that's the way it should have stayed. Catering to ratings and particular groups of people was the worst thing for us. I vividly remember as a kid watching Walter Kronkite and telling my mother, "He's boring." My mother responded, "Well, it's the news. It's just supposed to give you information." Funny how, these days, my mom--who I love dearly and wouldn't trade for any other--hasn't a clue what proper news is anymore. I have a varied Communications background, and I'm slowly losing my grip on it.
As a country, as a planet, we are a mixed bag of intelligence. Education is not what it should be due to fluctuations in policy, economics, etc. On top of that, how many of us, intelligent or otherwise, are simply trying to get by day by day working hard at careers and raising families? How many of us struggle to pay rent? Deal with an autistic child? Struggle with an illness? Are frantic with exhaustion trying to help a loved one through the last years of their life? How many of us have time to seriously analyze what the media feeds us? We have actually reached a point where our government is taking advantage of our heavily slanted (both ways) media to tell us it's all fake. And isn't that so much easier a concept to accept than developing and/or using our own research skills? People are angry. People are tired. And when we do push ourselves to do the research, it's stressful and depressing. For me, anyway. We are all walking around in different shoes and fewer and fewer of us are understanding that, it seems.
Much of the division is a condition of looking at people and situations in absolutes. There are people who are too uneducated to do much more than mentally ingest whatever feels right to their comfort zones. We have bright citizens who take advantage of that or who cannot fathom operating with less of an education than they have, so they ridicule. The divisive nature of speeches from politicians (both sides) and commentary on social media (both sides) only serve to paint large groups of people with one brush. And that, in my opinion, is the most dangerous element of all of it. I am sickened by a frequently posted piece on Facebook, "7 Things I know about you if you voted for Trump." Sure, there are voters who fit many, if not all of those points ... but a good many do not. We are people from various backgrounds (different shoes) who think and act in particular ways due to our upbringings, education, and life experiences. I have a friend who refused to vote democrat this time around because he is law enforcement and his research tells him that he would be voting for a felon. My experiences and knowledge does not necessarily tell me the same thing. I love my friend. My friend is far from racist, does not care who loves who, and is the first person to come running if anyone of any background needs help. I can't get in his head on this one, even though we typically agree on so much. I don't understand. But he's one of the greatest people I know, and I've known him forever. Am I supposed to cast him out of my life because we can't agree on the lesser of two evils or who has a better chance of procuring a better country over four years? By the same token, I have friends who would agree with me politically on every point who are getting downright hypocritically hateful toward those who disagree. And then I've been told who to vote for by red-in-the-face senior citizens who fantasize about going back to the good old days, whenever they were. Personally, most of my comfort zones in life have been stripped away, so I can't relate to that at all.
Absolutes get us nowhere. I guess my question is this: While there are people who thrive on being part of the extremes and it seems there is no talking to them, can we focus on calling a truce with the far more plentiful rational people on both sides? To work toward compromises? Few hot topic issues need to be as black and white (absolute) as they seem. Is there a better way to face a person whose opinion you find completely ill-informed? I don't know. I'm just asking. For now, I'll surround myself with people who evoke a resounding 'yes' if I ask myself, "If this person saw a lost child on a street corner, would they offer help regardless of race, dress, gender, religion, or language?" It seems so quaint and delusional to say, "All we need is love." But unless you're a sociopath, don't we all need it in some way or at least be better off with it? Can we use the idea of love to generate more rational conversation? Again, I don't know. I'm on a new path where I'm trying really hard to make empathy and common ground part of my dealings with people. So ... I'm just asking.