It’s no secret that America today is as polarized as ever. Ideological conflict seems inevitable. Talking past others has become the new normal. One has to look no further for evidence than our daily TV cycles. Some news anchors claim that the current presidential challenger is a Communist who wants nothing more than to infringe upon individual wealth and tear down individual liberties. On the other hand, others believe that the presidential incumbent is a closeted white supremacist beholden only to corporate interests. Regardless of the possible truth to those claims, our current political climate exaggerates this largely symbolic bickering and prevents the public from focusing on the real issues that matter.
America’s entrenchment in toxic dogmatism prevents the formulation of any real solutions to the numerous existential crises that we face today. Cooperative pragmatic solutions are instead replaced by isolationist infighting and political gridlock. Make no mistake, disagreement is healthy, and everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions. However, brushing aside opposing ideas by labeling them as “slander” or “fake news” makes it impossible for both politicians and ourselves to come to rational, applicable compromises. Only when we truly engage with each other’s arguments can we move forward together as a country.
Now, don’t mistake this article as a call for Donald Trump and Joe Biden to have more debates. This article is about high schoolers like you and me. Political opinions are not formed in someone’s mid-life or “boomer” years. Rather, people’s opinions are formed during young adulthood, making it even more important for dialogue at the high school level. It’s pertinent that whenever you are confronted with an opinion you disagree with, you face it head-on and do not deflect it simply because it challenges your typical way of thinking.
Dialoguing with others is, by no means, an easy task. It requires sitting down with ideological enemies and putting aside fear, distrust, and differences. It requires empathizing with those who might have a completely different race, gender, culture, or religion than you. It requires patience, as dialogue should not be a one-off event that we engage in when the going gets tough.
Dialogue should be a continuous project—one that structures your very outlook on life itself. So next time you disagree with a fellow Cub, sit down and talk about it. Perhaps then we can get through these trying times together, unified as a school, community, and country.