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An Argument For Bi-Partisanship, Healthy Debate And Empathy

03/13/2017 11:36 EDT | Updated 03/13/2017 11:36 EDT
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The world is becoming more partisan, and we can understand why this is happening when you look at the consistency of global events that encourage impassioned and extreme points of view. Events like financialization and the widening gap between the rich and poor, terrorism and the fear it spreads, and very significantly, human displacement as a result of inability to keep up with the rate at which technology is evolving, have all contributed to a greater sense of disconnectedness despite the world technically growing more connected.

I am focusing on our inability as a greater society to keep up with technological development in particular because one of our very basic human needs is to feel a sense of purpose, to wake up with a place in the world, and technology is quickly displacing those who aren't part of the technological revolution. When you feel displaced, you feel as if the current state of government, the structure of our society, doesn't support you, and I believe this has been a significant contribution to the populism movements that we've witnessed recently.

As we find ourselves facing further partisanship, meaning there is less of a group mentality, and more "us vs. them," liberals vs. conservatives, rich vs. poor, we must remember the value of discourse, of debate, of understanding the other side's point of view, and that there is no winning in being right. If you're right, then somebody else is wrong, and this may satisfy in the moment, but it is no way to productively move forward. In fact, it creates further divisiveness.

Encouraging debate is enormously important, there is no replacement for it. The key to debate, and what differentiates it from two parties yelling at one another, is that while half of the recipe is education, half of it is empathy; there is an inherent respect built into the process that allows each other side to share their views. Debate is not debate if you are not open to hearing what your opponent, for lack of better words, has to say, and receiving their points with a sense of openness. I believe it is a process of integrity, and we so need to preserve that.

We are all in this together, regardless of our political views, we end up under one government and as citizens, if we are to continue to live in a country that we are proud to call home, then we must work together to ensure that our rights are preserved, that our freedoms are carried forward, that the economy operates with the interest of society in mind, and that our institutions are upheld. This will not happen if we do not operate as a collective.

Several reasons stand out to me as why partisanship has grown to the state that we experience today: sensationalized news reporting that targets readers by appealing to their politics, and the average person's shortened attention span, the sheer amount of content that is thrown at us everyday, and as a result, our penchant for reading headlines, selectively choosing publications or articles, and surrounding ourselves with people and information that are like-minded.

It bothers me a great deal that we feel encouraged to demonstrate a strong opinion for one side or another, rather than looking more carefully at the pros and cons of each side, because there are. Each political party is complex, and the reason each has gained traction is because there are valid ideas at play -- we must respect this. Just like how no politician is all bad, no politician is all good, and no one person is completely horrible (try as we might to convince ourselves as such). For the record, every single politician lies, makes fake promises, and is beholden to somebody. There is simply no way around this, it is part of the political system, and it is more than irritating that these behaviors are used to condemn politicians.

I hope that the global divisiveness we're experiencing today leads us to take a good look at how we got here and acts as a catalyst for change. I also hope we can learn that showing empathy trumps being opinionated. I hope we ask each other questions and demonstrate genuine curiosity for the various perspectives around us and within the political spectrum. I hope that we find unity in coming together for the greater good and our future society.

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