I rarely comment on political topics, mainly because the majority of debates are filled with gross exaggeration if not outright lies, but today I feel compelled to write.
I cannot help but use my own point-of-view in this, as wife to a college president. My husband just took an interim position as president of another college in the area, and he has quite a job ahead of him, but his presidency is far different from the job of President of the United States, in much the same way that becoming a faculty member at a college is different from being a congressman in Washington, D.C.
You see, when my husband--or anyone else--serves as the president of a college, he or she joins a large group of people in a team effort to create as good a college as possible. They are united by obvious goals: to serve students, to provide a great college experience and an even better educational experience, etc.
What my husband does not have to deal with is the likelihood that half the college campus believes he is unfit for his job, will destroy the college during the years he occupies the president's seat, and is an incompetent, borderline Satanic creep. Instead, although some faculty and staff might disagree with a chosen path or argue about policy, 99% of those who work at, attend classes in, and are otherwise involved with the college are united in their effort to make the college as great as it can be.
We need, as a country, to do the same.
If my husband had to deal with 50% of his college attacking him through the press, disrupting meetings, refusing compromises, etc., the college would suffer. His ability to do his job would suffer. The truth is, EVERYONE involved with the college would suffer. How could the college function if teachers refused to teach, or departments could never decide on a textbook because of ideological differences, or maintenance were fighting with housekeeping, or students were bombarded by hateful rhetoric every time they stepped onto campus? Or if contracts were put on hold because the administration members refused to work together to get their budgets, hires, and other necessary work done? The truth is, the college would fall apart, and that is what is happening to our governmental system because both sides would rather vilify each other than work together.
I don't pretend to know which political party anyone belongs to. Honestly, I don't care. What matters to me is that so many of us think it's right to blast the other party just for being who they are, that we are so concerned with ideological differences that we refuse to work together or consider the "other" side our equals.
How do we make it stop? The only person's actions I can affect are my own, but there are actions I can take every day to remedy this.
1. Call out those who spread false information. It doesn't matter whose party or which candidate/congressman/public person the skewed post criticizes. If it isn't accurate, I need to make that clear.
2. Check my own facts before I post ANYTHING.
3. Constantly examine my own way of thinking to see where I have taken leaps of reasoning.
4. NEVER assume that my opinion is "fact" while others' opinions (if they do not agree with mine) are "delusions."
5. Show respect to all, but make it clear that I expect them to show the same respect to each other.
6. Raise your expectations of those in office--and back off. How? To back off, stop expecting every statesman to do what you personally believe in. That they do not agree with you about abortion or the economy doesn't make them evil. It means they don't agree with you (and that is ALL). How do we raise expectations? That's the easy part. We need to expect those in office to DO THEIR JOB.
And that is the crux of it. My job is to be a writer... to DO my job, I have to write. I am also a parent, doing that job effectively requires me to be present, to involve myself with my kids--to PARENT. Those in office need to stop fighting and back biting and DO THEIR JOBS. I respect people who have opinions, but I do not respect those who use their opinions to keep from doing their jobs. End of story. We all do better in life when we DO OUR JOBS, and many of the bad things that happen in our lives are caused by us NOT doing our jobs or by other people around us not doing theirs.
In the end, it matters that I keep my mind open, that I admit when my judgment has faltered, and that I am willing to compromise. I cannot possibly assume that I am the single most intelligent person in the world, that my opinions are all right, and that I cannot make mistakes. Besides, if we stop pointing out differences, if we refuse to let the nasty language divide us from others, we might just see the similarities that tie us together.