Thursday, September 18, 2008

Demonizing the Polls

I am so tired of the demonization in politics. I am tired of the right and the left and the mudslinging and the over-reacting and the misinterpreting and the lies and the empty promises. Thank the Lord this only happens every four years, because it is awful and depressing! It is bad enough that the economy is in shambles and that hurricanes keep striking, but to have spent the last 500 days listening to debates is making everything worse.
What really bothers is me is how much both sides demonize and belittle the other. It is not just one type of group either; it is everyone from the politicians themselves, to the journalists, to my neighbor or co-worker or friend, or my sister’s friend’s uncle’s cousin. It is EVERYBODY. The irony is that if the members of the feuding sides actually sat down and talked over coffee they would see much they have in common and how similar the themes of their lives have been. We can all learn something from the person who is yelling at us loudest in the opposite direction. Every member of society has a good side and a bad side. We are not stereotypes or caricatures, we are human beings. We have stories.
One of my best friends is the complete opposite of me religiously and politically and yet one of the things that keep us connected is our differences and our respect for our differences. We can sit down and discuss and debate the liberalness of her ideas and the conservativeness of my religion and the best part is that we both come away from the conversation smarter and more open than before. We learn so much from the other because there is honesty and trust there to be open. We have this because we respect and love one another. We are sharing ideas and beliefs and stories not to convince the other that we are more right, but to show and explain more about ourselves and why we are the way we are. She and I have learned how to ask one another tough questions about the stereotypes the media, critics, and politicians have placed on our race, religion, and political party. We have come to learn a lot from each other in seeing that stereotypes are not always the whole story and we are more open-minded and patient with that which we don’t agree because of our talks. She (and her dad) has shown me such kindness and respect and openness that they have become my favorite people to discuss politics, social issues, and religion with. They make me feel validated because of my beliefs even though they don’t agree with most of them at all. This is what I love about going to their home. I love how they are open minded enough to accept me for my different opinions and actually listen to me in a way that allows us to discuss my opinions without debating them.
The world needs relationships like the one Kiigan and I have together. We all need to remember that there are people behind those blanketed stereotypes and that if we really knew one another we wouldn’t be so harsh or seem so opposite. We may not agree or vote the same way or attend the same church or live in the same neighbor, but we respect one another for the reasons and experiences behind our given label.

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