For a majority of the United States, the 2016 election left a bad taste in their mouth, but not for the reasons you might think.
Regardless of who you supported in this election, the negativity and anger were enough to disenfranchise anyone. It was a personal battle, with two strong (and many believe) extremely flawed personalities that caused our nation to rise up against each other in ways few of us have encountered in our lifetime.
This isn’t another “buck up, Buster, it’ll be okay” article. This isn’t encouraging you to adopt beliefs that you don’t support or to silence you in debating those conflicts. Stand up for your beliefs.
But what you should do is to learn how to hold your opinions while maintaining the respect, dignity, and genuine understanding that the people around you necessitate.
Abandoning conflict isn’t what I am encouraging, but rather to try to broaden your perspective. Don’t listen or watch only what you agree with, but rather, look to both sides. Each side has flaws, but incorporating what you learn will help you gain experience.
For those with liberal leanings, perhaps be willing to look at what other sides post. ProPublica is a good source, Fox news is a good display of some aspects of conservatism, and some talk radio hosts are also making efforts toward bridging the gap.
For the more conservative viewpoints, start to look beyond the expected areas. Give CNN and NPR a try.
And for every person, don’t dismiss the other side immediately. We have a tendency to hear one aspect or source and close off completely, but try to not do that. Also, even if you will never be swayed from your side, be willing to discuss without superiority and attempt to learn why the other person believes the way that they do.
When we begin to develop both our politics and our people further and invite challenge and debate, our nation will develop those aspects as well. And really, having even a few more people be kind and understanding is hardly the worst thing to happen.
As Stephen Covey said in his bestselling book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, “Seek first to understand, not to be understood.” And that starts right now: leave your ideological bubble and find the people and see all sides of the politics. And maybe, just maybe, you can learn a thing or two along the way.