After witnessing the Women’s March in Washington, I’ve decided to start a resistance.
Not the same resistance that’s rallying against President Donald Trump’s efforts to privatize education, repeal Obamacare and reverse Roe vs. Wade, among other issues.
A new resistance I’d like for myself and millions of others — democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives — is the ability to voice our opinions while withstanding the impulse to chide, taunt, tease and belittle the opposing side.
This harassment has grown increasingly stronger since the early days of the presidential race — flourishing on news and special interest websites, social media and TV broadcasts. We read it, watch it and laugh at the absurdity of the jokes and insults, while far removed from the reality of the remarks in the safety, privacy and comfort of our homes.
When you see it happening in person, however, it is quite a different experience. Standing in the middle of a 500,000-person protest, watching, reading and hearing needlessly crass commentary on signs and in speeches from politicians, celebrities and other personalities — it’s just disappointing. A very peaceful, memorable, successful march could be easily remembered in the minds of many as something less than it was because of these occasional low blows.
Trump supporters are — without a doubt — equally guilty. Hundreds of thousands of heckling messages, videos, memes and more can easily be found on social media from the conservative side — and to what end? Malice is only fostering more malice. The degradation is a never-ending battle to “one-up” the other side’s attacks.
More importantly, the credibility of anyone’s opinions, despite which side they’re on, is ruined when they wreak of disrespect.
It has got to stop. The disdain is dividing us, weakening our core and prompting some to wonder when — and if — it will ever end.
Our personal relationships are already suffering because of it. People have “unfriended” others on social media because their opinions were at odds. Others have refused to discuss their political views because they know it cannot be done without prompting arguments.
Those who regularly read Fox News’ website and those run by most major national outlets could rightfully think that we live in two different countries. Never have we seen news coverage so swayed than we have in recent times. While the New York Times emphasized a Trump inauguration speech that focused on “American carnage,” Fox reported the speech as patriotic, stressing its “America First” theme. Which is the truth? And do we have to insult one another to decipher veracity? Don’t we know that there are always three sides to every story: yours, mine and the truth?
To understand one another, we need to at least try to walk in one another’s shoes. That means reading what you choose not to read. It means listening — and understanding — when your first impulse is to disagree. It doesn’t mean backing down on your position, but instead being open to the possibility of accepting different viewpoints. It means treating people with respect — something we all appreciate when we want to be heard.
Hopefully, our new president follows that philosophy, and becomes a role model for the country. But if he doesn’t, we need set the example in our communities through our own actions.
Argue and defend your opinion on the issues. Go forward passionately and fervently. Take a respectful stance when listening to differing opinions. But please — leave the schoolyard behavior behind.