Monday, November 7, 2016

It's Time to Stop

     On Tuesday we will be walking into the voting booth to choose the next president of the United States. Someone who we are choosing to be our spokesperson, our Commander in Chief. The person who holds the office is to be someone who represents what America is. This election has made me sit down and reflect upon what kind of role I want to play as an American. As someone who has a voice called a vote. 

     This year we have seen one of the nastiest elections in history. I believe our two "choices" are truly reflective of who we are. We have become so hateful and angry we have selected two terrible individuals to represent us. I cannot understand how anyone can put their weight behind and assign their name to either of these two candidates. I understand the lesser of two evils argument but cannot understand someone actually believing that either one is actually good for our country. My oldest son can vote for the first time this year. His first presidential election. I am embarrassed of what we have become. I would not want my children looking up to either one of the candidates.

     Recently in my Facebook memories a discussion I was having about the politics at that time came up. As I read through the comments one person commented that there was only one party that wanted to truly better people. This just shows you the mentality we now have. We have become divided. I think we all know that but do we really understand what that means? It means we have come to the place that we believe there is good and evil. The side we identify with of course is good. Therefor the other side must be evil, and everyone who associates themselves with that side must be also. Since good must overcome evil we set out to destroy the other side. In other words we must win and the others must loose! Forget about the fact that a good negotiator gets both sides as much of what they want to build a deal, it's our way or the highway. A great example of this comes from that same memory when the same poster told me that they thought it was "amazing how some people fight against things that's for their own good" I don't know how this person knows what is good for me and my family but I do know that comment was insulting. The bigger problem with the comment was that it contained no real argument. We just know we are right and we don't need facts to stand behind what we say. In fact when I asked for a factual reason why they were right my Facebook feed was silent. 

     Today we run on emotions and facts are silly little things we sweep under the rug. We have become so distrusting of the other side that even when presented with facts they really do mean very little. We have seen video proof of wrong doing and we blame the source. We say "look who put it out, they cannot be trusted" and refuse to even consider what we have just seen. We actually ignore what has been put before us! We have all become experts because we read a headline on Twitter. We do not even consider the fact that maybe the person sharing the story or meme has an agenda or that the site it came from may be bending the truth. We especially need to be careful when it comes from a source we believe is on "our side". We like and share meme's and believe we are making a bold statement and since we agree with the premise we don't even bother to check on it's facts. We are blinded by our partisanship. 

     We act the same way when it comes to sports. We choose a side, declare our allegiance and support our team even in their bad years. We champion them no matter what. When they win and loose. We even accept cheating at times because the other team is a bunch of losers who need to be taken down. Politics should not be a contact sport. All we care about is getting the "W" and watching the other side fail. We don't want to debate we want to shout each other down. We love trash talking. We are the champions and you are the losers. We are not for something as much as we are against them. 

     We have entered a time where we have become so self righteous that we no longer care to try to understand each other. We don't see the other side as people, we see them as the cartoon version of what we believe the other side is. Not only are we drawing dividing lines between left and right we are also pitting ourselves against each other by things we have been working hard to erase the lines of like race, sex, religion. Now we are creating more even more lines like income and jobs. This is what happens when we all choose a "side" instead of thinking for ourselves. I think history has shown us that group think can be very dangerous. We all claim to be enlightened. Free thinking yet follow a party like a heard of sheep. Never straying from a single point. Following whomever is appointed as the leader without questioning the integrity or values that individual holds. You have to follow the leader because when you have stood so firmly with a party you cannot acknowledge it's failures because then you will have to admit your own short comings and we all hate admitting when we are wrong.

     I am proud to say I do not, or have I ever belonged to a particular party. I do have political leaning that may lean in the direction of one of the party's more than the other but I have never supported any party. I believe the truth usually is somewhere between the two positions that people take. I believe in studding each person and each subject individually. I have never felt one party represents everything I believe in. I only speak out about things that I am well informed on and stay quite on other subjects that I have not fully researched. Because of this I can always handle myself in a debate. I have never attacked a person because of their association with a party because it's beliefs not people that need to be fought against. Yet if you argue against something a party is doing you are grouped in with the others who have. In the same Facebook comments I talked about earlier when I confronted the poster on why he was so stern with me and why he seemed so upset that I had a differing opinion he admitted he was tired of people calling his side this and that. Something I never did. But I was accused of it because I was seen as the other side. Again we see everyone on the other side as the cartoon character of what we think they are and the sins of one are the sins off all.

     I love a good debate. I have had my opinion changed on several subjects in the last year by people who have truly thought out their position and made great arguments to me. I find that these people are also open to what I have to say. They are usually so versed in the subject that they can argue my point as well as I can because they have studied it from all angles. If you enter in a debate with me come with a level of skepticism. Enough that allows you to test my beliefs against yours as I try to do with yours against mine. Do not try to manipulate the conversation with politically correct terms. If you speak the truth, if you know your argument, you don't need to control the conversation. Most people cannot handle a deep conversation without letting emotions get the best of them and then you will soon hear conversation enders. These are the phrases once used must end a conversation. Most of them are name calling. Some are judgments of the heart. These are words like racist and bigot. These words are used so loosely today I think their meaning has been lost. However you should end any conversation with someone who uses them. It's manipulation and insulting. If you think you can have a kind and factual conversation then we may have a great debate.

     Even after this election we still will need to work on filling the divide that is tearing us apart. I have put together some things I believe and try to follow in order to keep civility between myself and those I encounter today. I must say it doesn't always work. People believe what they want and no matter how much love and understanding you show they will do and think what they want. I have never felt bad after loosing a friend on Facebook or in life over political beliefs because I know I did my best to be fair and respectful.  

I do not use labels to describe people unless they first describe themselves by the label.

I will not react out of anger.

I move with positive motion by being for something and not just against something. 

I will not engage with people who are angry, bitter, and only argument skill is name calling or shouting you down. By doing so you only empower their voice.

I will not vote or support someone that does not exemplify my values no matter how much they may share my goals for the country.

I will not pit one group of people against another. I do not believe that kindness/help to one group at the expense of another.

I will not engage those who believe they know the motives of the heart just because they disagree with a opinion or philosophy.

I wont like and share memes and news stories that attack, contain exaggerated falsehoods and are fact less. 

I listen to facts and not emotions. Emotions usually direct you in the wrong direction.

I refuse to go over the cliff with everyone else and follow even those I agree with blindly. We really need to remove the fog of partisanship from our eyes.

     Its a time for healing. We need to move forward. If the person we hope wins doesn't, we cannot be sore looses. If our choice wins, we need to be gracious and reach out to those who are feeling left behind and not counted. Start reaching for those things that you can agree upon. Party has become more important than family and friends. In a resent survey 7% of people have ended their friendships over this election. We are all brothers and sisters on this planet and we need to realize humanity is more important than politics. 

     Taking the route to healing will not be easy It's easy to stand when you stand together as a group but you may need to stand alone with your principles and the truth and that can be a lonely place, but it's where the strong leaders stand and it's where those who really make a difference are. It's time to stand and let the healing begin.