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One reason I am happily apolitical — all the venom from people who align themselves with this side or that. I understand the comfort that comes with “belonging” — there is a camaraderie amongst people who share one’s beliefs, and even a pleasure that comes from slinging arrows at those who seem to oppose them. Also, when one aligns oneself with a group, it’s admittedly easier, because one is carried along by the “righteousness” of the cause. For some (who have become susceptible to the enticement of group-think), that means parroting whatever the majority (or the leaders) of the group are saying. Others do manage to exert their individuality while still associating with a certain collective. But it’s the seemingly inherent vitriol that, frankly, turns my stomach.

If you could meet someone with completely opposite political views, but not know that about them (and not have the topic come up in conversation), there’s a decent likelihood that the two of you would get along famously. Of course, if someone of a differing ideological viewpoint is also brandishing hatred and advocating violence at every turn, then your best bet is to avoid them entirely. But our fellow human beings have far more in common with us than a majority of people allow themselves to believe.

The real tragedy of party affiliation is that it makes one forget that most of the people on “the other side” are also kind, compassionate, caring individuals. 99.9999% of the people on this planet want the world to be a better place, but many blind themselves to think that anyone who doesn’t agree with everything that they do must be wanting to tear it all down, or — the easy fallback defensive position — are merely too stupid or naive to agree with them.

Arguing incessantly with someone who has strong opinions isn’t going to change their mind. Ever. So why do it? It makes both of you just “dig in” more, and greatly lessens the possibility of actually working together to improve things. Or more simply, to even enjoy each other’s company.

Believe me, I come from a family with greatly differing opinions on the hot topics — politics, religion, you name it. And several members of my clan seem to love stirring up the pot, so to speak. I used to be one of those people. But then I realized that all the debate wasn’t solving anything except to make me feel angrier and more isolated. So I just decided to shelve all that, and try to see the good person underneath who is merely attempting to make things better in the only way they know how. Now, I simply avoid broaching those topics, because I know they will only serve to bruise egos and hurt the people I love. And when others decide to get a heated conversation going, I just excuse myself. Once I made this change — which was a lot easier than you might think — I truly began to understand the compassion and heart within those family members whose beliefs I once decried. This is also how I try to approach the rest of the world.

We cannot all see things eye-to-eye, but there is no reason why we cannot see things heart-to-heart.

Posted by DJ on September 1st, 2012 at 3:05pm.

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