As a journalism major, I hate to feel like I'm hiding from the news. But I'm having a hard time changing the channel from the Food Network or ESPN to any news program these days. I very rarely write about anything like this, but I have to get it out there: I'm sick and tired of politics. I'm very grateful for the democratic nation we live in, and for our right to vote for whomever we please. But as for politics, I think we could find less drama in the text-message inbox of your average teenage girl!
Politics bring out the worst in us, there's no denying. They would have you believe that your neighbors are selfish, greedy monsters who don't care about anyone but themselves or lazy, idealistic flower children who think money grows on trees. Any similarity to the word "polite" is purely coincidental.
The truth is, we aren't really that different from our neighbors, regardless of which box we check on the ballot. We want the same things: a better future for our family and our children, good jobs, affordable medical care when we need it, well-maintained public spaces, freedom to worship as we believe, to feel accepted, and to feel safe in our homes. We may not agree on the best way to achieve those things, but that doesn't warrant the kind of hate that is spewed once every four years.
I'm not trying to lessen the importance of voting. It is important to vote as you see fit. That is a liberty that, as someone who escaped an oppressive government recently told me, you don't appreciate until you don't have it. The truth is, we all have an opinion, and if we vote we can make it known. However, opinions are like noses. We've all got them. Last time I checked, it wasn't considered very polite to condemn someone based on the size and shape of their nose. Maybe we should apply this theory to politics.
If that doesn't have you convinced, think about the children. Our kids see and hear everything we do. At a fairly tender age, they are exposed to election coverage and political ads, unless we are very careful not to let this happen. The extreme political partisanship espoused in the various news media these days threatens to make us into a nation divided. Each side promises to end the negativity, but it's almost impossible to do this if divisive issues and viewpoints are made personal by connecting them to a particular candidate.
This is a pretty big problem, but there's a simple solution: you don't have to hate someone just because they don't agree with you. I'm aware that we could have avoided many centuries of war if everyone actually operated according to this principle, so I'm not terribly optimistic about seeing change anytime soon. However, as Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world," and as Jesus said, "Love thy neighbor." These are pretty simple things for us to do here at home. Perhaps if we can all model this concept, the politicians will catch on. And even if they don't, we'll be raising a generation of loving children who look for the good in others. I'll stay tuned to that channel, thank you very much.