Stop Blaming Republicans And Democrats
Conversation in our country goes like this: Democrats are a bunch of freeloading snowflakes! Republicans are racist! Democrats did this! Republicans do this! Conversation like this is destroying our country. It leaves everyone exhausted, angry and defensive. Communication skills drop to nil and productive dialogue comes to a halt.
We must move past labels. Every time you use a label and make generalizations like Republicans are this, anyone who self-identifies as a Republican perceives it as an attack on their tribe. An attack on one’s tribe creates a mindset of wanting to retreat to your tribe, get defensive and lash back at you/the opposing tribe. Communication is shut down and the chance for creating any progress and having productive dialogue is gone.
Right now our sense of tribalism is at an extreme. Normally our tribes aren’t a problem. We have liberals, conservatives, democrats, republicans, socialists, libertarians, anarchists, and so on. Normally, we can co-exist and come together to talk productively. However, the extreme tribalism we are experiencing right now has replaced any sense of shared humanity. Thus, using labels and making broad generalizations only furthers the tribalism and divisiveness in our country. If our country is going to make progress, we must speak toward our common humanity and remind each other that we all share the same human wants and fears.
Our different tribes are not the problem. The problem is that we are not communicating with each other productively. In a healthy democracy it’s the diversity and acceptance of our tribes that make our country strong. Ideally our tribes would all come to the table and say let’s come up with a plan for creating a top notch education system. Then the various tribes would share their ideas, their experience, their wisdom and the group would collectively hash out the best plan for creating a great education system. However, we are stuck in our tribes and we have stopped coming to the table. Or when we do come to the table, we are so angry and so stuck in our tribalism and have forgotten that we have a common goal that dialogue is unproductive.
So what do we do? Change our language. In order to break through this sense of extreme tribalism, we must put extreme effort into recreating our shared humanity. Until the various tribes can see each other as partners in a shared human experience we will continue to see each other as “The Other”. Anything anyone says that is perceived as coming from “The Other” will be rejected. Ideas, truth, facts, fears, everything will be rejected as long as we perceive each other as “The Other”.
So change our language. Speak in ways that talk about how things affect all of us. How does the latest piece of news affect all humans? Make concessions that your tribe isn’t perfect. If you can take the first step towards admitting that your tribe isn’t perfect, then perhaps someone from another tribe will come forward and say you know we aren’t perfect either. That is a step towards re-establishing our shared humanity. Also, consider that a lot of the dialogue is coming from places of fear. Fear increases tribalism. Change this. Show compassion for their fear. Accept people as people, even if you don’t agree with their ideas. Acceptance just says, you are okay, you are worthy. You don’t have to agree with their ideas to accept them, you are just letting them know that you recognize their reality. You recognize that they are a human being who’s opinions are a product of their experiences. Ask questions. Speak from a place of love. Love promotes inclusiveness and acceptance and breaks down our divides. Speak from love. When you speak from love you tear down walls and build bridges. Love is the greatest power we have.