“The current political climate” is a phrase that describes how dysfunctional life in the United States has become. The words are used by the media and politicians, as well as by people at coffee shops, bars and dinner tables, to strengthen their position on hot topics: Donald Trump, racism, Supreme Court nominations, global warming and gun control. To name a few.
The words are written or spoken, and all who read or hear them are expected to understand without question that there is an ideological war raging between right and left, and we are all embroiled in it.
I think we all might be a little crazy, and that the current political climate is in our heads. The people we have elected to represent us are often elected because they have promised to fight for us. In most elections, the fighter gets the votes and the diplomat goes home.
This philosophy holds true in the strange world of politics, but not so much in the lives of the people affected by it. We the people fight as a last resort, not as a matter of course. We understand that there is more to life than grandstanding, attacking another’s position and winning. We have no choice, we are in this together. Our world is not black and white, 50-50, or left vs. right.
For our society to function, it is imperative that all involved understand that every one of us has something of value to offer. The complexity of life demands it. Our world would fall into irreparable chaos if each of us, every moment, fought to be right. Travel would be catastrophic, peaceful gatherings reduced to riots, education impossible and high-quality health care an unobtainable dream.
Human beings have learned the value of understanding another person’s views, and right of way. We understand the laws of nature, and follow them without question. It is truly miraculous and validating that 300 million people are able to exist in peace, be productive, help those in need and truly care about everybody else.
The distractions we are bombarded with daily do not define us. We are far more important than President Donald Trump’s tweets, or a Supreme Court nomination and the circus that surrounds it. It is difficult to ignore the drama, and oddly comforting to choose a side and live in an echo chamber of like-minded people. But that ultimately leads to resentment, disappointment and despair.
“The current political climate” is exactly what we allow it to be. I refuse to succumb to the mantra that my beliefs are in stark contrast with half of my fellow citizens. I have far more in common with people I disagree with on political matters than I have differences.
I know that I like meatloaf, punk rock, kombucha, the NFL and Nike sneakers. People close to me despise all of those things. But we all love each other, and most of us love meatballs, rock music, sweet tea, sports and cool T-shirts.
The devil is in the details, and we have become obsessed with focusing on the details that divide us. What is good and oft forgotten is the graceful dance the vast majority of us perform daily.
Providence Journal Op/Ed by Michael Morse, 1 Oct 18