As the political landscape of America becomes more fractured each and every day it is apparent that many now see their respective neighbor and perhaps even family members as “the enemy.” As a student of history, I find this to be a frightening trend. Unfortunately, America, as do other countries, when in a conflict with an opposing country vilifies fellow human beings and labels them as “Japs,” “Krauts,” “Gooks,” etc., etc. Thus, it becomes easier to fight and perhaps kill a label that an actual living and breathing human being.
Many may blame social media for our current fracture in the political landscape, but it goes much deeper than that. In order to deal with ideas that differ from our own we label and place these individuals in categories of those who hold opinions that differ from those we hold. Somehow, I believe it is easier for our minds to deal with black and white and vice shades of grey.
Unfortunately, both sides of the aisle now have reached a point where we often isolate ourselves from people with differing political opinions. This is harmful in the obvious sense: It diminishes open, enriching political discourse. However, even more harmful is the reduction of individuals with whom we disagree to nothing more than their political beliefs. We allow our own self-image to be defined by our political identification.
We fail to realize that people are more than their votes for Joe Biden or Donald Trump. People have families, friends, hobbies, passions, thoughts, and priorities. A Trump voter is not a gun toting insurrectionist, whereas a Biden voter is not necessarily a woke progressive. They are simply people who have different opinions than you or me. Those opinions do not make them dumb or evil – it simply makes them different.
Perhaps it is time to rise above the partisanship and see each other not as the enemy next door but as a fellow human being.