Keeping the Peace


Designed by Grace Pionek

“Dispute over politics leads to fight at Sacramento State” 

“Political fight leads to Cape shooting” 

“I Can’t Work With You! How Political Fights Leave Workplaces Divided” 

These headlines are a few of many that have sprouted across the news over the past year. We have all seen them or something similar. The commonality between them is clear: hostility in differing political views. 

I found myself especially emotional when reading headlines and articles that centered around the violence that politics have induced in America. It is difficult to flip through a magazine or log onto a news website to find negative articles being published so rapidly. Living in the land of the free is something that I have always felt so blessed to be able to do. The freedom and democracy that this country have are what allow us citizens to have the opinions that we do: whether it be in politics of not.

If we are so blessed to be able to have a say in our governmentwhat is preventing us from showing our gratitude peacefully? It is a question that I have struggled to answerWhere is the peace?

The difference in political opinion in the United States is recognized now more than ever. It is what everybody is talking about, it is what everybody is interested in and it is what makes this country the democracy that it is. As a nation, we are meant to have contrasting opinions, and it is evident that political diversity flourishes in this age.

More in Common, a nonprofit, conducted a year-long study in 2018 called, “The Hidden Tribes of America” to “understand our polarization and study what can reunite our fractured communities.” The study surveyed close to 8,000 people that represented the country’s population based on census data. The “tribes” that were found through the study describe how either someone was to be engaged or disengaged in the country’s politics based on personal beliefs.

Political diversity does not always bring about the civility that is dreamed of in this nation

One could say that it is simply incivility or societal variance, but it is not. Contempt is the notion that a person and his or her views are valueless, unimportant and beneath our own. This is why political peace is so difficult — because people aim to demean opposing views rather than educate and understand one another.

The disrespect and hatred shown toward opposing opinions has been overdone and is upsetting. Hostility towards one another simply because of their conflicting views should not lead to hate, violence, and brutality. It is not ethical. It is just not right. It is not American.

The peace in politics is overridden by contempt.

Eliminating contempt from political discussion is how this nation will end division. It can feel impossible to remain open minded or understanding when politics is the topic of discussion. It is easy to let words flow when we are irritated: anger will cause us to feel infallible. This can then lead to contempt. Contemplate responses and remain civil.  Winning our political battles by manipulation and deception is not rational.  

When discussing politics, remember to keep an open mind. There are reasons as to why others believe differently or similarly to you. Ask open-ended and nonjudgmental questions, give others a chance to respond, and then provide your own thoughts. Do not try to change the views of others: chances are if he or she is willing to converse with you about a political topic, they are not looking for an opportunity to change their beliefs.  

Rather than discussing figures and facts, use personal examples and connections, as people are more willing to accept the argument if it appeals to a person on a personal level. Make sure that the information that you are presenting is accurate and factual. 

Most importantly, don’t let contempt take over your actions and words. Disagreement is something that can ease over timeOnce one has shown contempt toward someone or something, it is difficult to recover. When ending the conversation, work to find a common ground. This may be through discussion of morals, emotions or values.  

In future elections, keep competition alive. Share your opinions. Utilize your freedom of speech. Most importantly, educate. Liz Joyner, the founder of the nonpartisan public educational forum Village Square, says that “the goal (of political discussion) isn’t to agree; it’s to disagree and keep talking.” 

Respect one another and the democracy that this nation has during the upcoming 2020 presidential election. As a nation, let us work to remove the contemptuous headlines regarding political difference. We must unite to keep peace in politics and continue to grow as a nation.