Editorial: We need to have a talk

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We are not always going to agree, but instead of debating over who is right or wrong, how about we talk it out over tea?
Graphic by Theresa Lee

Whether you’re watching TV or walking through the halls of our school, it’s likely you’ve heard people arguing over politics. All too often, participants in these political debates are quick to take on an “us versus them” mentality based on existing political affiliation before the conversation even begins.

Politics doesn’t have to be so black and white.

While many classes and clubs facilitate civil conversations about opposing viewpoints on different issues, those conversations can often become less friendly outside of class. If someone voices an unpopular perspective, other students may roll their eyes and give each other looks before gossiping about it later. In the hallways, some heads turn if people hear so much as the name of a candidate and are quick to join in on the conversation, trying to “win” the discussion while attacking others for their views.

Many of us seem to believe only one side can “win.” We invest our time and energy into proving our side is right, viewing the other side as a threat and ignoring the fact that we may share common values with people from different parts of the political spectrum.

We need to stop prioritizing winning and start prioritizing open, productive discussions.

Rather than entering a discussion with the idea that our beliefs are right and any other ideas are an attack on our own values, we need to listen to each other. One conversation probably won’t change anyone’s mind, but by taking the time to listen to the reasoning behind others’ beliefs, it’s possible to find something you do agree on. And who knows? Maybe your beliefs will shift after becoming more informed. And, just like we learned back in elementary school when discussing the best flavor of ice cream or whether pineapple belongs on pizza but have failed to apply to more important issues, it’s okay if you don’t have the same opinions as your classmates.

If we remain so politically polarized, we will never win. We are at a stalemate, lacking productivity and unable to implement solutions for the problems that plague our society.

We don’t have to forfeit our political beliefs to be more open-minded and willing to accept others’ thoughts. All it takes is changing how we treat others with different beliefs when we partake in political discussions.

So, as we approach the 2020 presidential election, seek to change the polarity embedded in our political differences. Listen to your fellow peers and what they have to say about certain candidates and their policies. You don’t have to agree with everything they believe, but listening and having a willingness to rethink your own ideas is vital to begin solving our problems.