A better way forward

Published 6:29 pm Thursday, February 6, 2020

It’s been a week to remember in national politics. From the implosion of the Iowa Democratic Caucus on Monday night and a politically divisive the State of the Union address Tuesday to the acquittal of President Donald Trump during his impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, those who have been paying attention have had a lot to take in.

If you’re on social media, it’s practically unavoidable; Uncle Joe gloating about the exoneration, sharing memes implying Trump will be president for the next 40 years; Aunt Jane, woefully bemoaning the death of American democracy and all that is good and decent.

Then there’s the constant, vitriolic back and forth ugliness between strangers in the comment sections of national news stories; name-calling, anger, impassioned (and often misinformed) defenses of one side or the other. People talk trash across the country from the relative safety offered by a screen and thousands of miles of distance.

It’s nasty, it’s ugly, and it’s not how we should treat each other. It’s a sad state of affairs that we have let politics divide this country to this extent.

Take a look out your door. You probably don’t see people yelling at each other in the streets over their political views. Likewise, you don’t see people fist fighting over those beliefs, at least not here in Beaufort County.

But log on to social media or turn on the national news, and it’s a whole different story. People disrespect each other regularly, and cities erupt in violence as opposing political factions clash with each other in ugly protests.

It makes a person glad to live in a place like we do, somewhat removed from the anger and turmoil that finds its way into big cities. But that doesn’t mean we’re immune to it, and it doesn’t mean we’re not capable of saying some pretty stupid things on social media.

We need to step back as a society and consider a different approach to politics. We need to remember the common humanity, and that we have more in common than our political differences would lead us to believe. We should reconsider kindness, compassion and understanding of our fellow man. We should revisit the notion of compromise and doing what’s best for the common person and not get lost in the turmoil of division.

It all starts with each of us. How we treat other people, in person and online, and whether or not we choose to subscribe to the anger and the hatred. Maybe turn off the TV and step away from the keyboard, and stop letting the screens tell you what to be angry about. Go out and get to know your neighbor, outside of their political identity.

We’re better than this as a country, and if we can’t move in a better direction together, we will fall divided.