There is a lot of political tension in our country right now, and this can feel overwhelming, discouraging, and frightening. I feel this way sometimes.
At times like this, it is helpful for me to remember this: It is never “Us against Them”. It’s all of us against dehumanization, oppression, and injustice.
Despite our political polarization, there are so many people, all along the political spectrum who understand the truth above. If you are reading this post, I believe you are one of those people. Here are some things we can do to keep moving forward, in spite of our current political turmoil:
One: View people as people–not primarily as Democrats or Republicans or Independents.
Two: Realize that most people are trying to do the right thing and want the same things you do–safety, meaning, and purpose. Focus more on what you have in common than what divides you.
Three: Realize that it is possible for moral, intelligent, and thoughtful people to have legitimately different and reasonable views about how to achieve the same goal.*
Four: When it is safe and possible, be willing to engage in respectful dialogue with people who have different political views than you possess. (Of course, only do this if they are willing to engage in respectful dialogue, too.)
Five: Understand that there are moral, thoughtful, and intelligent people all over the political spectrum who have the political affiliations they do because that political affiliation helps them feel safe and gives them meaning and purpose in some way.**
Six: Treat people, including yourself, with basic kindness and dignity, regardless of their political affiliation.
Seven: Be willing to find creative solutions that help both you and people with different politics feel safe and have meaning and purpose. (Listening and showing respect will point you in the right direction.)
Eight: Know that you have permission to remove yourself from or cut off contact with people who consistently dehumanize, oppress, and act unjustly, especially when you communicate how their behavior is hurting you. (There are people whose main goal, consciously or unconsciously, is to dehumanize other people, and holding them accountable for their behavior is the moral and just thing to do.)
Nine: Focus on one thing at a time. You are not required to solve all the world’s problems right now. Consider choosing one area or topic you can focus on to bring greater humanity and justice into your world. Your area might just be showing respect and love to your family right now.
Ten: Be a voice for sanity. Refuse to demonize people in other political parties. Recognize the dignity and the light of God (if you are religious) in everyone.
Bonus: You can pray this prayer or say this intention:
Where there is prejudice and hate, let there be recognition of shared humanity.
Where there is segregation, let there be new paths of life-giving connection.
Where there is greed and violence, let people find abundance and creativity.
Where there is dehumanization, let there be loving dialogue.
Where there is no hope that things can change, let people see miracles on the loose.
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*In our highly polarized political climate, it is easy to think that people with different political views are automatically immoral or unreasonable. But we know differently deep down. We know that every day there are people of all political persuasions helping and serving others and sacrificing their time, money, and even their lives in order to make the world a better place. Folks like this have the same end goals as we do. They just conceive of a different way to reach them.
**Of course, there are people of all political persuasions who are immoral and unreasonable people. But given the point above, we should not assume on the outset that just because someone holds different political views than us that they are immoral and unreasonable.