If we stop arguing, we may find more in common than we thought we had
It’s an increasingly-difficult task these days to discuss any issue of substance facing this country without the warring factions on each side jumping in and trying to tell us how smart they are for having the position they do or how dumb those who disagree are for holding the opposite opinion. Sometimes people do both. But what has that ever accomplished other than making us feel better about ourselves?
Not much, if anything.
Whether it’s politics or racial relations or countless other things, the people on opposing sides of any issue (most often on Facebook and in other similar social media cesspools) quickly start talking at each other instead of talking to each other. It seems like people care only about being “right” as if there are only two choices and one correct answer for every topic under the sun.
If only the world was that simple.
Take politics for instance — fitting because we elect a president later this year. Just mentioning the name of the current chief executive seems to cause people to lose their minds, whether it’s because they enthusiastically support him or they just as enthusiastically despise him.
If we could all avoid the urge to cast dispersions on people who hold the opinions they do for what is often a variety of legitimate reasons, we’d learn that many of us who often disagree also agree on many things.
Don’t believe us? Ask yourself these questions. Do you want America to succeed? Most people do. Do you want our military personnel to return home from duty safely? Of course. Do we want this country to be better for future generations than it was for ours? Undoubtedly.
We could go on.
The argument is really about the manner in which we go about making that happen, but to read social media, you’d think every little disagreement is a battle between good and evil with the very fate of the world hanging in the balance.
When it comes to race relations it is similar, perhaps even more magnified. Most of us in society believe that racism should not exist in any form. When it comes to police using excessive or unnecessary force, most reasonable people say that is a bad thing. When it comes to whether people say “black lives matter” or “all lives matter,” no one is arguing that a certain ethnic group’s lives don’t matter. But because race is involved, it becomes a proverbial third rail and if you say the “wrong” thing, that means you’re against certain groups of people and are, therefore, the enemy.
The truth is most people believe what happened to George Floyd is tragic and wrong and everything reasonably possible should be done to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future.
Like with politics, the disagreement is about how much we should do and what the best way to go about doing that is.
As we move through the summer and into the fall, when the election really kicks into full swing, we know many of these problems will present themselves often as people scream and shout about whether President Donald Trump deserves to be re-elected.
No matter what outcome we get in November, we hope people will begin to understand we are more alike than we are not and our differences do not need to be the death of civilized society.
Moving forward, it’s incumbent upon each of us to treat others with respect, not just those with whom we agree, but especially those with whom we do not and those who come from circumstances different than our own.
Abraham Lincoln once asked “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” He also said “Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.”
We would all be wise to heed the words of our 16th president.