This is just my second week writing this column, and I have already completed several different submissions for this week and am now starting over again. There are just so many topics that I am passionate about that it is difficult to focus. There is an election coming up, our economy is sliding toward a recession, immigration is out of control, crime is raging, drug use is decimating our youth, FBI agents wearing body armor and armed with automatic weapons are conducting early morning raids on the homes of senior citizens accused of singing hymns and peacefully blocking access to abortion clinics, and the DOJ targeting parents who question their local school boards. Despite all of that, I still have hope. I may be a fool, but I must resist the pessimism that is so prevalent today and I will tell you why.
Despite the moral decay of our nation that disguises itself as social justice or righteous indignation, I find hope when I talk to people and find that their differences are not as extreme as they are led to believe. We are told we should hate each other because of our differences, but that is a smokescreen to keep us from discovering how similar we are. We allow others to group us and tell us how our group should feel and what we should believe. What is even worse is that we are so desperate to belong that we eagerly accept being herded into these groups. We could turn this all around by doing two small things. We need to have honest discussions and listen to others with open ears and an open mind, and we need to all start thinking for ourselves.
I have friends who have different opinions. We often have discussions and sometimes they become heated. I try to remain civil, but I am not perfect. Usually when I get most upset, it is not because I disagree with my friend’s passionate and well-thought-out defense of a position. It is usually because my friend is misinformed, refuses to debate the facts, or is just parroting some party’s or group’s talking points. When my friends express opinions that they have reasoned for themselves, even if I still disagree, I learn why they feel the way they do. Last week, my friend wrote in his column about the level of animosity and vitriol in today’s political environment. I agree that it is out of control and needs to stop, but we don’t agree on why it exists. There are extremists of all kinds, and most don’t care about much beyond furthering their cause. I don’t remember Trump supporters burning cities or threatening Supreme Court Justices. Not that all Trump supporters have been model citizens.
We all need to step back and reassess. We all need to quit being against things we hate and start talking about the things we are for. We need to discuss our differences with civility and understand that it is fine to disagree. We need to quit judging people based on labels and start treating people as individuals. We need to stop trying to silence the opposition and start trying to promote an honest dialogue. I had an officer who once told me, “Never tell someone how stupid they are. Share enough information with them so that they realize it for themselves.” I have tried to follow his advice when I disagree with someone who is acting stupid, and I often find that I was mistaken about who was being stupid. It is easier to find faults in others than to admit the fault might be our own. We need to quit accepting what we are told to believe. We need to take the time to get the facts before we express our outrage. I hope that all of you will honestly listen to people you disagree with, and I hope you will think for yourself.
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