Clearing The Political Atmosphere

Reconciling Personal Political Disagreements

The shooting this morning (June 14) in Alexandria, Virginia highlights how poisoned the political atmosphere has become in America. But the differences run deeper than those exposed in such public acts of violence. At no time since the political and social upheaval of the Civil War, has people shown such strong aversion to those who have different political views. Neighbors have turned on neighbors – and even friends and relatives are turning on each other. Friendly discourse among groups who meet in restaurants and other public places often turn into heated exchanges and result in hard feelings. Tolerance has given way to hard-edged bias, and anyone who has a different opinion is viewed with deep suspicion. Strong feelings and dislike for a political party or politician is being transferred to people who disagree.

Personal Relationships – It doesn’t have to be that way, and politics do not have to bring about disruptions in personal interactions with other people. Here are a few suggestions which might help improve relations with people who do not share your political views. It’s not necessary to understand why another person feels the way he does; it’s only necessary that you treat him with respect and dignity and let him know you respect his opinions. Don’t treat those who disagree with you as outsiders or enemies – but as people who simply see things differently. Don’t label them as uninformed, stupid or unpatriotic – or call them names. If a person insists on belligerent and overbearing behavior, it’s probably best to make your exit at the first opportunity. Bring your positive views to bear on supporting your political views and politicians and bring your negative views to bear on the political views of the opposing party and politicians – but not on other people who disagree with you.

Social Media – Facebook and other methods of communication makes it too easy to say mean, and sometimes completely false things – without looking into the face of another person. Occasionally some of my facebook friends post or repost info that is mean and obviously false, or at the least, grossly exaggerated.  Then people who agree with the post pass it on, sometimes with no regard for its truthfulness. Respect for the truth and for your facebook friends should always be a guiding principle.

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