People Are Dividing The Country, Not Politics

By Andrew Witzel

We’re hopelessly divided as a country, that is obvious. Conversations all over the Internet have ended with the phrase “Nice try troll, buh bye” just before you get blocked or unfriended. Have we devolved so far that no one remembers how to act like an adult to another adult that is, shockingly, not in agreement with what you believe?

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, etc., etc.; almost everyone with connectivity available to them has at least one account on social media. There is one fatal flaw with 24/7 interconnected communication via electronic means; it’s only 7% of what we consider “communication.” The other 93%, that we sacrifice when communicating online, is made up of spoken words, voice tone and body language. Unless you’re making videos and having people reply back with videos, then communication is literally just words on the screen.

I recently wrote a piece, called Repairing The Divide, that focused on one particular experience and, upon reflection, I’m no longer angry with. I’m disappointed. Disappointed that despite my willingness to listen and see their point of view, it fell on deaf ears. Disappointed that the exchange left me questioning why I continued to read them despite being so far apart on views. Disappointed mostly because this is an experience that so many of us, right now, are having to deal with on a daily basis on social media.

After reading my piece again, I realized that I started to mirror the vitriol and one-dimensional comments with my own in similar fashion. I’m confident enough with myself to admit that to everyone. Conspiracy¬†theories of aliens on our world not withstanding, we’re all human and humans will always make mistakes. The ability to reflect on ones mistakes though and learn from them is what separates the leaders from the followers. Our country is badly in need of a leader that can unite the people. Several people are close, but don’t have the following yet to affect the majority; Evan McMullin, Gary Johnson (to an extent), Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard to name a few.

There was a time not too long ago that we could sit down to dinner with friends and have a conversation about politics or religion and not want to kick them out of the house. We can get back to that, if we could just start listening again and not taking offense to every little comment that differs from our own point of view. I’m a logical, level-headed, intelligent person and can spin theories all day about all the things we need to fix. I’m also not too proud to admit when I’m wrong or when information contradicts my previous point of view or opinion. Don’t send me article upon article, without your own context, trying to prove your point. I’m not you, I can’t read your mind, if you want me to understand your point based on an article, talk TO me, not AT me. A healthy open dialogue is what I can promise in return if you’re willing to do the same.

We live in one of the greatest countries in the world. I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else. I’m patriotic and respect our men and women in the armed services. I’m American! All I ask is to be treated as such when it’s my turn to speak after listening. I’m so tired of being disappointed.

8 comments

  1. Good thoughts….your point in the beginning about people acting like adults was spot on. Today the old saying of Descartes, “I think therefore I am” has been re-packaged to,” I believe therefore I am right”. We have devolved and it is so sad…I use to have good arguments with people of all stripes now they try and shut down anyone that does not agree with them. I too occasionally devolve to the name calling but it is when I let anger and disappointment take over. None of this will change until people learn to use the head for something other than a hat rack. chuq

  2. We’re never getting back there, Andrew. I had hope until this past week. Wednesday evening, only six hours after we laid my grandfather to rest, my uncle lectured/harangued me for having written my “In the Shadows” piece. For over an hour he did this, explaining that my column on how my experience of sexual assault has led to my feelings of deep revulsion for Donald Trump “lacked integrity” somehow. He battered me with his “logic” about how what happened to me should have no bearing on how I felt about Trump. Over and over and over, he kept it up. And those 90 minutes are when I officially lost any hope that our country will ever be the same again.

    1. It’s close minded people like your Uncle that I wrote this piece about. I’m sorry for being so blunt. You just lost your Grandfather and your Uncle had the callousness to berate you about a piece that was obviously difficult to write and share. A better person would have seen that and understood. You’re a stronger person for it and it’s your Uncles loss pushing you away.

      1. Thanks, Andrew. He did it under the guise of, “Well, Hillary was just as bad”, claiming that showed that what happened to me didn’t REALLY make me personally despise Trump. He claimed I was just being “close minded.” He had the gall to claim that I was one of only a few people he would talk to this directly, as he knew I “could handle it” and because “he loved me so much.” It was like he thought he was doing me a FAVOR by talking to me the way he did. And he’s not some ignorant rube. He has multiple graduate degrees and runs his own business. That’s why I say there’s no hope for this country to ever return to normal political discourse.

  3. We’ve all become victims to this trend, whether we’ve wanted to or not. I’ve read a lot of blogs about “mansplaining” and it seems that EVERYONE is a mansplainer now about politics and personal views…scary. I see people trying to explain their viewpoint as if the listener was a dimwitted child–my dad’s done that to me a few times, which is why I don’t talk about politics with him anymore. I see it all the time now.

    And yeah, everybody seems to have to pull the “False equivalency” out to prevent bloodshed. Apples and oranges aren’t the same, let’s knock it off.

    1. I listen first usually and then tailor how I speak accordingly. What drives me nuts is the people who are like “Trump, he’s crazy” and then get angry with me when I start talking about politics. If you start, I will talk.

  4. Dear Andrew, Unfortunately, we live in a “me society” and it’s not easy getting people to read or listen to an opinion that doesn’t line up with their views. In many cases, even if they choose to comment on something you are passionate about, you might not get an honest opinion. We see a lot of this type of behavior with the media. Commentators only care about their political position and refuse to dig for the truth. Thus you have what’s been dubbed, “Fake News.” If you don’t think that this doesn’t impact our youth and young adults, as they say, “you better think again!” The problem with getting people to have an honest conversation over something you’ve posted, seem to be day’s gone by. The culture in our world today appears to be lost in their own little world and have no desire to hear the truth of just about anything. If it doesn’t fit their agenda, they will either snub you, or call you something you don’t want to hear. It might sound a little cynical, but the way people seem to not care about or disagree with the subject you present them, doesn’t bother their conscience much at all if any.
    I’m a Born Again Christian and was raised a Catholic until I got saved 38 years ago. So when I start sharing the Gospel to someone or something group of people, in many cases they immediately try to shut you down. Basically proving what the scriptures prophecy about the hardness of the heart of man in these Last Day’s. The quote from the Bible says, ” In the last times, men will be lovers of themselves more than lovers of God. Men’s heart’s will grow cold…”
    I hope you are successful in your writings my friend. You will be in my prayers. Blessings, paul montoya

    1. Thank you for the well though out reply. I agree with most of your points and am starting to believe that we may be too far down a particular road to ever get back truly open dialogue. Regardless of the state of things, I still hold hope that we will find a more stable common ground. I still hold conversations with people that don’t shut me down and vice versa. It’s an exercise in tolerance and understanding that different people have different opinions. I don’t get offended with someone if their opinion differs from mine if we’ve both listened and heard each other. That sort of mentality is contagious with a group of open minded individuals, where in lies the problem I think, people’s minds are becoming closed off.

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