People are complicated. Politics are too. It’s hard to fully understand how someone gains their political beliefs with the incredible amount of influences of modern life. The foundation, though, starts with how someone grows up. A person’s community and the views of their immediate family are at the top of the list of influences. It’s impossible to control either of those factors when you are born.
We hear a lot about the political divide in America. It’s one side against the other. Choosing a side renders you irredeemable to anyone with conflicting beliefs. We make enemies with others based on beliefs, that are based on influences, that are out of our control. That seems weird, right? With all of the influences and diversity of thought, we summarize ALL that a person is based on which colored jersey they are wearing. And pass judgment onto them.
That is exactly where we go wrong. I’ve been lucky and have met many different people from all across the spectrum of politics. I’ve broken bread with socialists, grabbed drinks with capitalists, shared a roof with the devout, and laughed with every combination of thought that I can think of and most likely more. My observation is the very first line of this article. People are complicated. The expanse of thought, experience, and belief of people is immense. The expanse of influences that build those beliefs is equally immense. Democrats and Republicans cannot even begin to describe what a person’s true politics are. Let alone the substance of a person.
Beliefs and thought are supposed to be explored. Ideas become stronger through evolution. Ideas need to be turned and dissected regularly to mirror an ever-changing and chaotic world. The hardest part is putting our emotions aside, removing the label of enemy, and talking. Not in an attempt to impress your ideas (in fact, you should avoid these people as well) but in an attempt to trade the influences you never had access to.
This is the path to healing.
Ask questions. Be a listener. Be an explorer. Have tough conversations and feel uncomfortable with your own beliefs. Be curious and malleable. Never hold on to any belief too tightly. Poke holes in your own thoughts and acknowledge the truth in the thoughts of others. Let your beliefs flow with new information in an attempt to find the truth. That is the goal after all. Political conversations are not a binary game of win and lose. They are an opportunity for progress. Find the other explorers, there are many, and build the future one conversation at a time.