So many things have been lost over the past four years. One thing that many Americans seem to have forgotten amid all of this is the power of empathy.
The current state of the U.S. is one of deep division.
Politically, we have people on the left, people on the right, people in the middle and people who just plain don’t want to be involved. People throw slander at one another simply because of the political candidate they voted for.
Oftentimes, people are misled to see political issues as binary, as absolute, their own side as good, and the other side as bad.
We forget that everything is multifaceted. And so is every person. Everybody has a story that we don’t know.
It can seem impossible at times to see eye to eye with those we don’t politically align with. But we can only begin to understand where others are coming from, how they formulate their ideas, how they see the world, by putting ourselves in their shoes.
When we begin to empathize rather than generalize, we start to realize that our true values may not be so divided as it may seem.
For instance, take the American middle class.
Wealth in America is becoming more and more stratified, leaving the middle class dwindling and struggling.
This affects thousands of families in the U.S., democrat and republican alike.
Where we disagree is how we believe the government should respond to this issue.
While some Americans believe that taxes should be raised for the top one percent of the wealthiest citizens, others believe we should simply be granted more freedoms in order to stave off what is perceived as attempts towards socialism.
But one thing remains true: all Americans are struggling right now in some form or another.
Our struggles are oftentimes more alike than they may at first appear. When we fail to see each other on this common ground, we become even further polarized than we already are.
Our failure to communicate with one another plays a big factor in our inability to empathize. Opacity, or the inability to be transparent, is in the nature of our language.
We all possess different bodies of experience that we carry with us into conversations. These unique experiences lead to differences of which, in turn, lead to unjustified assumptions that our own opinons are true and anything else is false.
These types of assumptions take us down a path towards even more dangerous stereotypes and conspiracy theories.
When individuals are uneducated on the process of critical thinking that must be employed when encountering information on the internet, people can be sucked down a rabbit hole of misinformation.
By empathizing with each other and having meaningful conversations, we can be more effective in understanding others.
Starting conversations with different-minded individuals by talking not about only our disagreements, but about our common and collective struggles, can lead to much more productive conversations.
This race is not about democrat versus republican. It is not about confederate flag flyers versus socialist snowflakes. It is not about the dangerous stereotypes and conspiracy theories that our country has been brainwashed with.
It is about finding some much-needed common ground and compassion for our fellow human beings.
Empathy, then, should be the number one priority and focus for Americans.
When we attempt to understand where others are coming from, to hear their stories and to learn that no two people share the exact same experiences, only then are we able to see from other sides and diminish this divide that we find ourselves trapped in.
Turbulent times like this are scary. Care for one another. Be understanding and compassionate.
Love, not hatred, will always be the right answer.