Are politics discouraging you?
There is a lot of political tension in our country right now, and this can feel overwhelming, discouraging, and frightening. I feel this way sometimes.
At times like this, it is helpful for me to remember that it is never “Us against Them”. It’s all of us against dehumanization, oppression, and injustice.
Despite our political polarization, there are so many people all along the political spectrum who understand the truth above. If you are reading this post, I believe you are one of those people. Here are some things we can do to keep moving forward, in spite of our current political turmoil:
One: View people as people–not primarily as Democrats or Republicans or Independents.
Two: Realize that most people are trying to do the right thing and want the same things you do–safety, meaning, and purpose. Focus more on what you have in common than what divides you.
Three: Realize that it is possible for moral, intelligent, and thoughtful people to have legitimately different and reasonable views about how to achieve the same goal.*
Four: When it is safe and possible, be willing to engage in respectful dialogue with people who have different political views than you possess. (Of course, only do this if they are willing to engage in respectful dialogue, too.)
Five: Understand that there are moral, thoughtful, and intelligent people all over the political spectrum who have the political affiliations they do because such affiliation helps them feel safe. And the affiliation gives them meaning and purpose in some way.**
Six: Treat people, including yourself, with basic kindness and dignity, regardless of their political affiliation.
Seven: Be willing to find creative solutions that help both you and people with different politics feel safe and have meaning and purpose. (Listening and showing respect will point you in the right direction.)
Eight: Know that you have permission to remove yourself from people who consistently dehumanize, oppress, and act unjustly. It’s is especially right to do this when you communicate how their behavior is hurting you, and they persist. (There are people whose main goal, consciously or unconsciously, is to dehumanize other people. And holding them accountable for their behavior is moral and just.)
Nine: Focus on one thing at a time. You are not required to solve all the world’s problems right now. Consider choosing one area or topic you can focus on to bring greater humanity and justice into your world. Your area might just be showing respect and love to your family right now.
Ten: Be a voice for sanity. Refuse to demonize people in other political parties. Recognize the dignity and the light of God (if you are religious) in everyone.
Bonus: You can pray this prayer or say this intention:
Where there is prejudice and hate, let there be recognition of shared humanity.
And where there is segregation, let there be new paths of life-giving connection.
Where there is greed and violence, let people find abundance and creativity.
And where there is dehumanization, let there be loving dialogue.
Where there is no hope that things can change, let people see miracles on the loose.
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You might also like this book: Parker Palmer, Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit
You might also like this post: The Politics of Force and the Strange Work of Love