Whether it’s the all-consuming marathon of the 2020 US presidential election or the continuing trend of the past several election cycles, we seem to be more polarized than ever. Even those who admit they’re not very politically savvy will fervently stand on one side of the aisle, finding it impossible to consider the other, much less look for common ground in the middle.
To cultivate greater respect in our communities, now more than ever we need to strive to see beyond red and blue. Perhaps it’s time to start giving some critical thought to the issues that impact our lives, and our fellow Americans, and then step up to serve. Frustrated by the behavior of others or the intense political discord in our country? We need to embody that which we seek, in our communities, states and nation.
I’ve got a secret for you, and it’s one that you won’t hear in the most intensely polarized media outlets. It’s actually ok if we aren’t an exact fit with our party. Being a registered member does not mean that you have to drink the Kool Aid. You can think independently, consider the issues individually and fearlessly cast your vote regardless of where your party stands. We each have the right to take a step back, clear our head and find an objective perspective of where we stand on the issues and candidates.
In order to move forward at all, we need to recognize that there is validity and value to be found on both sides of the aisle, and in actuality there is more that binds us than divides us. However, this does not include racism, hate, rage or any number of the toxic ideologies that have somehow found a foothold in the current mainstream political debate. Let me repeat that for those in the back row… decency, education and open-mindedness should be values we aspire to, not denigrate.
Striving for safety, prosperity, justice and freedom for all through government and legislation should be universal. Enough at least to encourage us to do everything we can to work together to ensure these American ideals remain our guiding light. Mutual respect and working towards the common good can once again be virtues at all levels of politics, not something to be demonized. Life without collaboration is nothing but a recipe for misfortune.
Progress does not come about on its own. Even down to the municipal level, decisions are made collaboratively by those willing to give their time and be involved for the greater good. Regular folks just like you and I generously give countless volunteer hours because of their desire to impact change even on a small level. I think that kind of service is a source of pride in our communities. I’ve reported on small-town political players that certainly weren’t in their positions for what I’d call the right reasons, but I’ve seen far more public servants and volunteers who truly give their time and expertise so our communities can thrive. Could you find a place among these ranks? Service to our communities can take many forms, but without it we would be completely stunted.
Looking forward into 2021, what issues affect you on a daily basis that your involvement could benefit? How could we better educate ourselves in an unbiased manner to gain a clearer picture of how we can help, not hinder, the political process to benefit the greater good?
More importantly, at this moment – right now – I challenge you to search your own heart and confront any unhealthy or unjust biases you have, that perhaps are being confirmed by what you chose to consume. Then commit to reaching across the divide whenever possible. We need to see one another as brothers and sisters again, not political adversaries, and pray we never hear another story of burning ballot boxes or caravans attempting to push political opponents off the highway.
It’s also important to remember that a lot of decisions that have a huge impact take place on the local and state level. Staying abreast of current legislation not only helps you to clarify your political positions, but upcoming legislation could also affect your business or household, and it’s critical to have a deeper understanding of the issues in order to vote in our best interests.
Increased respect in our communities and our nation starts within each one of us, individuals willing to take the time to see the issues from all angles and work together to achieve our common goals. A willingness to work collaboratively in the middle, rather than relegated to our own corners, fosters the kind of progress that is so desperately needed in 2020 and beyond.
Vote in peace and with dignity. This is our precious gift of democracy. I think we can meet in the middle and all agree on that.
Darcy Castro is a speaker, content creator and advocate for children of parents with a brain tumor. She is the founder and leader of Darcy Castro Productions LLC, the Empowerment Academy and the Kindred Heart Foundation.Cultivating Respect with Darcy Castrois an initiative focused on practical ways to create respectful environments in our own little pockets of the world. The articles, podcasts and videos feature honest, thought-provoking ideas that aim to inspire and foster positive, respectful communities. Follow Cultivating Respect at DarcyCastro.com.