Politics is a polarizing sport that pits one side against the other, and there is a lot of mudslinging going on that is tragically amplified by many in the mainstream media. Many Americans hold negative feelings, including anger, distrust and resentment. Yet, on Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think of the positive elements of our country. Are we not looking hard enough for that which is good?
The Democratic and Republican parties have competed to the best of their abilities, debating ideas, policies and the current state of the United States. Although neither the left nor the right will accept the other’s ideas, I’m hopeful that Americans can learn to set aside their political and ideological differences and search for one another’s positive qualities. This would be a huge step toward unifying our nation and putting an end to the tribalism that has kept us apart in ways that, perhaps, this country has not seen in over a century.
Taking the initiative to seek kindness in folks, no matter their views and opinions, can serve as a reminder that we can find humanity in those who are different from us. It enables us all to take a moment to reflect and acknowledge that the other person is not an adversary or enemy, but rather, a fellow citizen of the United States. We may not agree on a lot of things; in fact, it’s possible that we won’t agree on anything at all. But there is one thing on which we must never disagree: the idea of America and the principles of independence, liberty and individualism that have helped to establish the United States as a great example of hope and opportunity for people elsewhere in the world.
Politicians, celebrities and the wealthy incur much criticism for their remarks and acts. Undoubtedly, some of this criticism is justified, but the hatred that arises from their critics and adversaries is unjustified. Even among those we perceive to be “evil,” we must search for goodness. No one is so depraved that every moment they live is laden with greed or corruption. When the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was viciously assaulted, we should have prayed for him and for her, not put forth falsehoods and acted as if the crime was somehow justifiable. When Donald Trump and Joe Biden contracted COVID, we should have prayed for their recovery, not remarked — as some may have — that we longed for their demise. And when a politician sends us a message of optimism, wishing us health and happiness, we should embrace it and carry it forward.
Freedom — guaranteed and safeguarded by the Constitution — is the greatest gift that anyone could ever hope to receive, and we have all inherited it in America. We must do what we can to preserve the protections that enable us to publicly disagree with each other or publicly question one another. These experiences instill in us the significance of seeing beyond ourselves, to people who are distinct from us, and recognizing that despite our differences, we are all Americans who want the best for our lives, the lives of our families, and the communities in which we live.
During heated political elections, accomplishing that goal can feel like an uphill battle at times. When both Democrats and Republicans view each other as adversaries, and when we’re persuaded to believe that we’re so far apart from one another that we can’t share this country together, that is when we should recognize we have a problem.
We must learn to take things slowly and to cultivate an interest in discovering what is good in someone else. The fact that each of us values our families is indicative of a set of admirable attributes that we can acknowledge as being inherently good. Could it also be the case that, despite the fact that we are all unique, each of us has at heart good intentions? Could we join in that idea, and even come together to fight to preserve each person’s individual liberties?
Most of us simply want to safeguard our way of being — this is, at the core, what each of us desires. It’s possible that we’re all looking for the same thing, including a comfortable life, success, independence and happiness, as well as the opportunity to age in serenity in peaceful, safe communities. I’m willing to bet that both Democrats and Republicans could unequivocally agree they want this.
Take some time this Thanksgiving to have not just a casual conversation with a family member, neighbor, or friend who may have a different point of view, but a conversation that enables you to learn a little about their inner thoughts and desires. That may be a moment of truth that reveals the goodness in that person. And watch how each person interacts with other people, how they speak to them, how they treat them. In any event, you should give yourself the opportunity to separate a person’s politics from their other attributes — and you may find that many people, deep down, desire some of the same things that you do.
Our differences may come down to the vehicle we choose to arrive at the final destination, and that should not be something that divides us.
Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) is the owner and manager of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the Year. He is the author of “Reawakening Virtues.”
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