Bridging the Gap…Healthy Communication in a Country Divided.

Let’s face it.  2020 has been a year like no other we have experienced.  Pandemics, a country’s economy brought to a standtill for quarantine, murder hornets, cicadas, racism and the worst political divide I have seen in my lifetime.  The unrest can make people angry, sad, afraid and hopeless.  I have been angry.  I have posted angry things.  All things I have believed, but angry.  We all have a right to be angry.  We all have our own beliefs and our own morals and we cling to them.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Until we find ourselves so closed off that we cannot grow.  I never used to look at my friends and think, liberal or conservative.  I have never been one to talk political.  But I will speak my mind about things I believe in.  I have found, more and more, that it causes a divide in friendships and relationships.  Heck, when I was on the dating sites people say, don’t swipe right if you associate with one political party or another.  What ever happened to decent, healthy conversation?

After my last relationship, I swore up and down I could never have a boyfriend that is conservative.  But here is what I have learned in the last year or so.  I have some amazing conservative friends with whom I can have very healthy conversations.  We can disagree on things, yet be respectful and actually hear each other.  We can also come together to find common ground where we stand together.  I enjoy hearing the other side of things, where I can take information in.  I can question without anger.  I can get honest and kind answers.  I may not change my thinking, but I can soak in the information I have received.  I can do the research.  I may come back with other research, and hope that person can soak that information in too.  Often, I may come back an say, “wow, you make some great points.  That is definitely food for thought.”  But I might also come back with information about my lived experiences, especially in conversation about social justice.  While I may not have experienced social injustice, I have certainly witnessed it through years of work. 

My boyfriend (yep, he is conservative) and I have talked quite a bit these last couple of weeks about what’s going on.  What’s amazing is, I don’t feel like I can’t speak my mind.  We have total respect for the other’s viewpoints.  He shares his military experience, I share my social work experience.  We have very different perspectives.  And we do hear each other.  While I consider myself liberal, I do not find that I consider my agenda a liberal agenda.  I alway try to follow my path and look at humans as individuals who deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.  I think my boyfriend feels the same about that, and that is why we can have these conversations. 

I have also had people that post terrible things on both sides.  “Conservatives are racist.”  “Liberals are idiot.”  These are on the kinder side of what people are saying.   I will admit, I do shut down when I hear these things.  When people are close minded and refuse to hear anything, I have to be honest, I dig my heels in and don’t want to hear what they have to say.  This shuts off healthy communication. I have no desire to be around people like that. They are part of the problem.

What is the saying? “United we stand, divide we fall.” Just look at our country, the United States of America. We are hardly a united country. That does not mean we have to agree on everything. But it does mean we have to work together. Right now there are some pretty powerful people (politically and economically, on both sides) that are benefitting from the country being divided. Don’t let them do that. Open your ears. Open your hearts. Understand that just because someone has different beliefs than you, different morals, if does not make that person bad. It makes them different. Don’t just listen to the media. Listen to what every day people have to say. Listen to lived experiences. That is a life changer. Let us work together to make this country a better place for everyone here. Let us work together, through healthy conversations, through healthy disagreements, to make this country a place of peace and unity. That starts with you and me.

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