Polarization Won’t Disappear But We Don’t Have to Submit to It

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

At NCR, Millennial editor Robert Christian writes:

Polarization did not end with the election of Joe Biden. The structural factors driving it remain in place. And this polarization is helping to fuel the enmity that has fractured any sense of unity among the people of the United States. It will not be easy to reduce the tension, distrust and aggression in American politics.

We are not helpless, however. And Catholics and others who share our commitment to solidarity and the common good can take concrete steps to help us move forward together. Here are a few:

Be careful consumers of media.

There has been a relentless attack on truth in recent years. Those spreading lies and conspiracy theories, meanwhile, have attacked legitimate, trustworthy news sources as purveyors of “fake news.” Our society has become more relativistic (indifferent to factual reality) and nihilistic (caring more about power than the truth). Those who wish to be responsible need to take the extra time to find reliable sources of information….

Have faith in persuasion.

It is easy to give up. But for democracy to function, we have to engage in real dialogue and even respectful debate with people who have different views on important subjects. This requires listening and trying to understand what the other person thinks and why. Too often, we think about what we want to say instead of genuinely listening to the other person….

Learn to live with people who have bad ideas.

Persuasion will not always work. To flourish in a pluralistic society, we must live well with others, even if we do not share all their values or we find some of their views harmful or foolish. This is one aspect of putting people above ideology, a frequent request that Pope Francis makes of us. Do not depersonalize people, reducing them to a collection of political opinions. Remember that they have emotions and souls.

You can read the full article here.