Thursday, January 9, 2014

What's the missing ingredient in our politics?

I believe in the value of individuals. I value the belief so much that abortion goes against my grain. What about the homeless mother with two young daughters collecting cans and bottles out of garbage cans and sleeping in parks? She's pregnant. Looking at her situation, I’d view abortion in a more acceptable light and probably alter my perspective.

The ability to switch perspective is important. Most of us have emotional buttons and strong feelings. We're convinced our point of view is the only possible one correct. We're immune to perspective change because when our buttons are pushed by someone who espouses a differing opinion, we automatically don’t listen. We almost can’t listen because our takes are welded tight into our identities. Our defenses are automatic.They shield us. They protect our perspectives so we can’t look at matters in a different light. My argument is that's part and parcel of the human condition.

I’m naturally a Democrat. My instincts endorse the view that vulnerable people deserve protection from powerful interests. I support unions because I’m more an employee than business owner. Unions sit on one side of the teeter totter and because they do that balances the equilibrium between owner and worker. I support that. However I'm not going to bash Republicans as people. I’m not going to sling personal invective. I’m not going to douse the fire of political discord with gasoline.

I’m going to search for common ground. I’m going to live with momentary, unsettled feelings and respond rather than react. If Pat Robertson says something of value, I’m not going to discount the remark because Pat Robertson made it.  

What happened to courtesy in the politics of the United States? I don’t care who the President is. The position itself confers a dignity on the office that obligates respect. The President is the elected representative of the country. The liberal faction fumed against the second President Bush with unrestrained venom. The conservative faction is doing the same against President Obama. We have the strongholds of the Left and Right hurling boulders against their opposites and refusing to collaborate for the good of the country. Grouped in the middle is the majority that simply wants things to work. They want food and shelter. They want jobs and a good education for their kids. They want affordable housing. They want security on the streets.

Some of us are perhaps willing to no longer care how things work as long as they work. Jobs created by an elected official to aid impoverished constituents through a technically illegal manipulation? Is that getting things to work?

I stray off topic. I mean to emphasis that the whole social and political climate in the country would improve if we began to treat Americans with different views than our own with more courtesy and respect.

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