Our Political System in Two Words.

by Brandon

I recently made a post on Facebook complaining about all the angry political posts flooding my feed, and, of course, I got several replies from folks defending their right to talk about politics.

At first, I tried to defend my post by saying I was referring to the anger more than the topic (politics), but as much as I didn’t want to admit it at the time, I was wrong to make that complaint.

I realize now that I was being part of the problem.

No. That’s not strong enough.

By complaining about political posts, I realize now that my complaint was a perfect example of what’s wrong with the political discourse in our country.

So what, specifically, is wrong with the political discourse in this country?

The answer is so simple, I can sum it up in two words:

Nobody listens.

That’s it. It really is that simple. Nobody listens.

We don’t listen to the people we disagree with, and (possibly more importantly) we don’t even listen to the candidates we support.

In the past week, I’ve seen literally dozens of political posts where people are complaining about things that are factually untrue, and I’ve seen people defending candidates by saying things that are also factually untrue.

We seem to be more interested in validation than the truth.

Most people I know (who are politically active) are members of Facebook groups that are full of people who agree with them. Whether it’s a group full of supporters of a particular candidate or a group devoted to a particular party, people regularly join groups that have people who agree with them.

And don’t get me wrong here… that’s a good thing. We need that feeling of belonging to a community.

However, I don’t know very many people who join groups devoted to a candidate they do not support. And if they are in one of those groups, it’s usually for the purpose of trolling. I don’t know anybody who joins groups they disagree with, purely for the purpose of listening to what those folks have to say.

When we surround ourselves only with people who agree with us, we begin to get a very prejudiced view of the other side. We begin to villainize them. And sometimes, we begin to hate them.

But it doesn’t stop there. It’s not just that we don’t listen to the other side.

We often do not listen to our own side.

I know people who couldn’t name 10 things theirĀ candidate supports. They can’t name 5 bills their candidate tried to get passed.

And when they hear something negative about a candidate they support, they don’t react with, “That’s interesting… I’ll have to look into that.”

No.

They instantly defend their candidate (often by attacking their candidate’s opponent). They defend their candidate without even bothering to check whether or not the information is true. And if the information is true, instead of evaluating this new information, they immediately start coming up with rationalizations to defend the candidate.

It’s really ironic. The internet age exposes us to unprecedented diversity, yet we use this wonderful technology to insulate ourselves from that diversity. Instead of expanding our minds, we use this technology to hunker down in virtual bunkers with the people just like us.

And when we do interact with people who disagree us, instead of listening to what they have to say, we spend all our time telling the why they’re wrong. When they make a point, instead of listening, we’re thinking of a good counter-point.

Instead of posting about our opinions in a respectful way, we post memes that are literally designed to anger those who disagree with us… then we act offended when those memes succeed in angering those who disagree with us.

Put another way…

Nobody listens.

Yet we expect everybody else to listen to what we have to say.

So I offer you a challenge….

The next time someone says something you disagree with, instead of explaining why you disagree, genuinely try to see it from their side, and give a good-faith effort to find common ground. The next time someone says something about “your” candidate that you don’t like, ask them where they got that information, then look it up.

And I challenge you to go to the website of your candidate and actually read what they stand for. Then go to the website of the candidate you don’t support, and read what they stand for.

I’ll start…

I sincerely apologize for telling folks I don’t want to read their political posts. From now on, if you have an opinion on politics, share it. I’d love to hear it.

But don’t share it as an angry meme, and don’t share it with personal insults. Tell us why you believe what you believe, and give the proper respect to those who disagree.

I promise you this…

Anger begets anger.

We can’t claim to admire people like Jesus, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, Jr., then ignore everything they had to say.

If you share a meme calling a candidate a filthy liar or a criminal, don’t act surprised when you get angry responses.

And if you share a post that respectfully states your opinion, I think you’ll be surprised by the amount of respectful replies you get. Sure, you’ll get a few jackasses, but you’ll also get respect.

At the very least, you’ll get my respect.

I apologize if I sound too preachy here. That’s not my intent. Like I said, I fully admit I was wrong to bitch about political posts. I should have been more specific about my complaint, and I should have worded it in a more respectful way.

I think we all could benefit from a little more self-reflection, and a little less judging those around us.

Take care, folks.

As always, I love you all.

–Bran

 


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