If you are American, or at the very least a citizen of the world who is aware of things going on in other countries (often something Americans themselves falter at) you would be aware that November 8th, election day, is swiftly approaching.
It’s entirely possible that election season has been more volatile than it is in the present, but being that I’m now in my mid 20’s, I feel as though I’m hyper aware of political grievances. I think most would agree that this election is anxiety inducing at its least, and utterly horrifying at its most. I think the majority would tend towards the latter.
Obviously, as a millennial, my cellphone is my additional technological limb. Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the political hostility that has been slowly erupting on social media over the past year. It seems like it’s climbing to its peak over the last few weeks, and with that I want to explore a question: once we do reach the peak, where do we go from there to climb back down?
I’ve always found politics interesting for a variety of reasons. Lately, it’s piqued my interest for one in particular: what motivations shape your values, and how is it possible for them to be completely solid and founded to you, yet utterly nonsensical to another perfectly sane, intelligent person?
Of course, it’s understandable to become infuriated at the thought of someone opposing something you consider a basic human right and part as your identity as a self-aware human being. For example, I’m not shy about the fact that I am firmly pro-choice and support the funding of Planned Parenthood. To me this is completely non-negotiable. You will not change my mind about it. But just as I believe with all of my moral compulsion that this is what I stand for unequivocally, someone else has their completely sane and rational reasons why they are undeniably fixed in standing against my beliefs. I have friends who I’m quite fond of and respect quite wholly who do not share these values with me. This is not a matter of intelligent vs. unintelligent. So what is it a matter of?
Our emotional relationship with the world is arguably one of the single most defining traits of our human experience. We have morals as humans, and we have consciousness. As sentient beings, we are set apart from other animals, and ultimately for the same reason, set apart from each other.
Emotions are the colors in which our world is painted. The way your chest swells at a gorgeous sunset, and on the contrary, the way it caves in at the crippling loss of a loved one, the way it feels like a wave of boiling water rushes through your veins the moment you see the person you are longing for, and the balloon pop of joy in your heart when you realize your love is in fact requited are just a few of the many impassioned experiences that contribute to our Technicolor consciousness. This is what makes us human, and behind every decision we make, every belief we bestow our faith in, is an emotion that is unique and paramount to us personally. And so it seems, there are times in which we share these sentiments with our fellow human beings. Just as contrarily, there are times in which we categorically do not.
Is the opposite of war peace? Is the solution to a view you do not share or understand to not only shun it, but berate its advocate? Peace is lovely, and most of our lives would be very lacking without it, but I think the opposite we are looking for is compassion. Understanding. Empathy. These are what connect us to one another, and when tensions are high and we are at odds, they can bring us back together and bridge the divide that infects every single one of us.
Right now, we are all standing at the peak. Looking down at the world below you of human brothers and sisters, what do you want to be?
“Correct”, or compassionate?
I encourage you to join me in leaning towards the latter.