Don’t let politics divide us

Published 7:37 pm Thursday, July 18, 2019

On the grounds of Minges Coliseum on Wednesday, eastern North Carolina residents of different political persuasions came face to face on a small strip of ground outside the arena.

Divided by caution tape and officers of the Greenville Police Department, those who had come to cheer on President Donald Trump and those who had come to protest his policies shouted back and forth at one another.

The words they used were heated and sometimes ugly and hateful. There, two opposing ideologies came into close contact, both fueled by strong beliefs and emotions. While the yelling was almost constant, in the midst of everything, something even more interesting happened.

A few Trump supporters there to attend the rally came close to the protesters, not to get in anyone’s face, but to talk. In the middle of an otherwise angry scene, people were having calm, dignified conversations. In some cases, they even took pictures together.

Politics, by nature, are divisive. National, state and local issues push neighbors into opposing camps, and lines of communication between the two sides can easily break down into shouting matches.

We tend to put ourselves in echo chambers, with likeminded people who reinforce our own beliefs. We like to put devil horns on those who think differently. In some ways, this is just human nature.

But in taking that first step, and talking to someone with a viewpoint different from our own, we move away from the divisiveness of politics. Like the Trump protester and supporter who stopped to talk to one another, we might be able to recognize each other as something more than political caricatures.

Think about your own neighborhood. There are probably people you call friends who don’t agree with you politically. Would that stop you from helping them if they were in need or lending them a cup of sugar?

In all honesty, we’re not nearly as different as the politicians would have us believe. As a country, we need more talking, and less yelling.