While thinking of toxicity, how can I ignore how toxic our political environment has become? I try to keep this blog positive but...
Here's one thing that has gotten to me, and it was true of Europe during the Brexit debate and then vote-- it's not enough to disagree what must be done. Today the person who disagrees with us must be attacked. The candidate we don't like must be made into a monster. This is true of both parties in the United States right now.
If I said I was voting for either major candidate, there are places I would be attacked for my choice that meant I was a bad person or stupid. If i said I was voting third party, the attack would be that I secretly wanted A or B to win and that was really what I was doing by voting out of the system.
Here's the thing-- when the politics of personal destruction reach behind the candidates to the voters, it puts pressure on people to not discuss their opinions. When some issues are such hot button topics that to hear someone sees it differently, debate disappears into angry attacks. And these issues are on both sides of the political divide. Talk about gun control, abortion, gay marriage, immigration, racism, political correctness, environment, taxes, etc. and you can guarantee to infuriate somebody if you don't already know to whom you are talking totally agrees.
This isn't just going on in the US. I think it's worldwide. It certainly was true with Great Britain voting, narrowly, to leave the European Union. I got into it once by having posted something about it and ended up with someone from Norway and someone else from Netherlands furious at each other with one on one side and the other the other.
I guess we are lucky that mostly our debates are being settled at the ballot box, but in reality are they settled or just going underground, like abscesses, to surface in different ways? Are some of the rage attacks we see actually the result of this anger where it cannot be expressed, the person doesn't see things going the way they want, and it pops up against someone innocent or a spouse or themselves even.
A friend asked what can we do to peacefully bring ourselves together, and she suggested some possible ways. The thing is I don't think we can bring ourselves together right now. We just don't agree on what that would mean, and we are stuck in a a win/lose time. That rarely bodes well for good feelings-- even when it's over and a victory has been declared -- even worse if it's declared with gloating. And I have no reason to not think gloating will be involved after watching the recent aftermath of the first Presidential debate where the victor very much gloated the next day. If that happens again, how will that make the losing side feel? Like compromising and getting along or more angry than the actual loss had left them?
This situation reminds me of a book I first read years ago. I still remind myself of its principles when I come up against a sticky situation.
One important one (for me) was to not allow things out of my control to become too important-- but a lot of what is going on right now is out of our control. Another was not to engage in situations that required a win/lose or lose/win outcome. The idea then was to not play-- except when it involves our nation, our culture, the future of our children and their children, how do we not play?