I am deeply weary of polarizing conversations. To the point that I want to weep every time something controversial comes up. I already have an intense dislike for confrontation, but this? This is so much more.
I know some people who regularly hashtags their posts with things like #liberalsarestupid. I know others who regularly post things about all conservatives being greedy and indifferent to the poor or hating women. I want to shake someone and shout, “How is this helpful???”
If you see that there are some deep-rooted problems that negatively affect minorities woven into our system of policing, you must hate the cops.
If you state something showing gratitude for law enforcement, you’re racist and ignorant.
If you observe that yes, Israel has a significance on the world stage and in spiritual matters, but maybe that doesn’t give them a blank check to do whatever they want, you’re anti-Semitic, anti-American, and quite possibly, not Christian anymore.
If you support the right to bear arms but think maybe there should be some additional safety measures in place because the world is a messed up place, you’re ignorant, anti-Consitution, and anti-American, and want all the criminals to be able to run roughshod all over you.
If you think that in spite of whatever Planned Parenthood’s claims to the common good are, their roots are horrendous and there’s some shady business going, you hate women and want all the poor, minority women to suffer the most.
On and on. It goes on and on and on. I’d like to add a disclaimer that my examples above are extreme, but they’re not. These are conversations and interactions I observe every single day, and it breaks my heart. We think the worst and say the worst, and meanwhile, there are gaping wounds that need to be healed.
Maybe this isn’t a simple truth. Maybe it’s complicated, or maybe it’s become complicated, even though it shouldn’t be.
However extreme or different our views may be, we all have a vested interest in the well-being of our nation, of the world, of individuals, of families. Nothing will get better by calling names, by assuming that anyone who thinks differently than you is stupid or ignorant or hateful. That kind of language might get article hits and social media shares, but it doesn’t bring healing or redemption or hope or solutions.
The simple, not-so-simple truth? Change starts when we are willing to truly listen, not to tear down each other’s arguments or form our own defenses, but to hear what matters to someone else’s heart and find the common ground we need to stand on and move forward. Change starts when we are willing to challenge our own views and deeply held convictions, while seeking to understand why someone else’s conviction is different than our own.
We can all stand there stubbornly holding our ground and shouting insults, or we can close our mouths, open our ears and our hands, and start building bridges.