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Left And Right: Extremism Gets To Everyone

Updated on February 13, 2019
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more daily than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, & LGBT advocacy.

Politics - A Different View

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Politics Are Frustrating

To say that the political landscape in North America has become highly charged of late would be a significant understatement. Whether you're talking about President Donald J. Trump in the United States, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada, or Ontario Premier Doug Ford (also in Canada), there's a whole lot to unpack.

I was speaking with a friend the other day, and what came out of the conversation was really interesting. We're now in a world where there is no middle ground. Liberals view Conservatives a particular way, which is not always kind, and Conservatives are also terribly unkind to Liberals. There is no longer a time where Liberals and Conservatives can have a positive dialogue that moves society's progress forward. It's all about who can pull the other person down to their level, and fast.

In today's society, it seems very much like Liberals view Conservatives as prejudiced, at the very least, if not racist, and Conservatives view the Liberals as snowflakes, among other more colorful expressions. Maybe I'm naive, I don't know, but it seems to me that politics should be about both parties taking the time to actually dialogue with each other for the betterment of society as a whole.

We don't seem to have that middle ground anymore, and that's perhaps a reflection of how many venues we have for expression now. There are video blogs, written blogs, and a range of social media apps where people can express their opinions in venues that they never would have prior to the advent of these apps and computer programs. What's happened as a result is we've lost that filter, and the result is not a good one.

I'm definitely not a Conservative, and anyone who knows me knows this. My ideologies don't necessarily align with that political belief system anymore. However, lately, I've found myself trying not necessarily to understand the Conservative supporters but instead getting aggravated by them. The Conservatives I've seen in the world lately are too much so, and the result appears to be significant intolerance and to a large extent forgetting what it was like to be a student, or struggling to find appropriate health care, or requiring financial support on a temporary basis. I find I get angry more when I read about the various things that Conservatives are saying rather than trying to dialogue with them and try and find a middle ground.

However, while my political leanings more closely align with a Liberal belief system, I'm not necessarily thrilled with what I'm seeing from Liberals or their supporters either. They, too, are "too much." While I do agree with helping those with a genuine need - such as those looking for asylum or those who are escaping a war zone, I also believe that we need to help those in our own backyard be successful as well. I believe in social programs to help people get out of poverty, and I believe in free education. I don't believe that our border should necessarily have an open door policy as it seems some Liberals might suggest, but I do believe there's room for people of every different lifestyle and race wherever you might choose to live.

I don't believe, however, that someone who disagrees with your political ideology should be on a mission to personally attack you and then dismiss it as you being somehow weak. A discussion about politics - or anything that might be a bit provocative, for that matter - is not a personal attack unless you make it one, and sadly, discussions about politics have become highly charged personal attacks. I've seen, and been a part of, some of these sorts of discussions, and I'm fairly disgusted by them, but on two levels.

I'm disgusted by the fact that I allow myself to get that sort of angry and want to physically punch the person in the nose simply because of their beliefs, for one. It's like I believe on some level doing that, or grabbing the person and shaking them, will somehow bring them around to my way of thinking, and nothing could be further from the truth. I'm also disgusted because this is what a political discussion has now come to: name calling, wanting to do physical violence to the other person, and no one actually listening to what the other person is saying.

Political discussions need to occur in order to have an understanding of the issues at play in any political landscape. We have low voter turnout because people are becoming increasingly apathetic in person, yet in venues where we don't necessarily need to talk directly to one another, we attempt to eviscerate those that don't even want to try and understand our way of thinking.

In his book, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey discusses Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. In her TED talk, the late educator Rita Pierson discusses this same idea.

Perhaps if we attempted to link this idea of trying to understand rather than attack each other to political discussions, there would be a lot less desire to be aggressive and a lot more desire to actually discuss the issues like rational humans.

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