The best world is one we all build together.
This year I have written more and read more diversely than at any time in my past. A large part is newspaper opinion articles. How is it that two conflicting opinions can both make sense to me? Or conversely, I object to both even though one favors a view I hold. What I’ve decided is that it is not the writer’s opinions but their connection to their opinions that interests me. Do I understand their point of view? Is it honest?
My views are not limited to my experience. White, retired, not poor, privileged in today’s words, my opinions are also valid outside of my experiences. So are yours. Though white, my opinion about racism is not irrelevant, nor are my ideas on feminism without merit because I am male. It is not the things that make us different that matters. It is the things we share, our humanity, that connect us. Everyone knows insecurity, feelings of persecution, unfair treatment, and being disadvantaged. Likewise, we all know the security of being with friends, the joy in the presence of those we love. It is how reading another’s story resonates with us, stirs our emotions, and informs us. We all know the other.
Today’s writings contain a lot of anger. Perhaps some are justified and need to be voiced and heard. But it cannot end there. To find a resolution, or if not, then an easing, an improvement away from conflict toward cooperation, we need to get beyond anger. Democrats and Republicans can agree to one’s right to have different opinions. Police and protestors can agree that both have a purpose for being in the streets. Blacks and whites can work together for justice and equal treatment. The war ends when both sides put down their weapons.
If you are like me, you’re tired of the vilifying of opposing views. If you are tired of the same rhetoric echoing slogans, but offering nothing new and continuing the polarization, then stop contributing to that discussion. Start a new one, one that values listening, one that sees the person on the other side as someone with their fears and injustices. Common ground is there. It may be true that it’s been wrong for too long. Patience is difficult with feelings of frustration and discontent. Unfortunately, change comes in small steps. Needed is constant pressure to not slip back, in staying aware of the things that are better and calling attention to places where additional changes are achievable. Allies are on both sides of the issue.
I don’t want a world that’s like what I want it to be. It is not that I’m wrong, though I may be. It is that others are also right, others who have experiences and insights I lack. The best world is the one we all build together, one with a safety net and fiscal responsibility, one where a living wage and billionaires are possible, one with police and racial justice. Our blended visions can build a stable future, a brighter future, one of civility and respect. Working together is the path of a growing society.