Talk and listen to bridge the gap

Thursday, August 31, 2017

In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election I have witnessed varying degrees of political tension in classrooms, on the internet, and in the news.

I myself admit to engaging in some hostile political arguments, where the content strayed from facts and ideas to insults. One of my good friends holds very different political views than myself. During and after the election cycle we would get into bitter discussions at school, practice, and through social media. I think it's safe to say that neither of us had great argumentative skills, which almost always led to us hurling baseless insults back and forth.

Aside from entertaining some of our peers, these arguments-turned-shouting matches were basically a big waste of time, as our opinions remained unchanged while our blood pressures rose. Recently, this same friend showed me some of his favorite rapper’s videos and songs. To my surprise, many of the messages in these videos seemed to align with my political views. This realization got us talking in a more respectful manner, and we realized that we have much more in common then we had thought. We also realized that listening is more important than talking, and can lead to much more progress.

If more people from opposite sides tried to understand each other and opened their minds (and their ears) to new ideas, I think that a lot of the tension and vulgarity of political arguments would dissipate. If nothing else, people could at least be exposed to new perspectives. I understand that these discussions can be very hard to have, as it took me months to finally have one with a close friend. However, I believe they’re really worth having. After all, my friend and I haven’t gotten heated about anything other than fantasy football in a while.

Alex Sharp 

South Deerfield