The current political and social turmoil has been weighing on my mind recently. “Oh no, Shelby, don’t do it. Don’t start talking about politics.”
RELAX! This is not going to be another political post bashing one party or group of people. In fact, I think it is time we pause all the noise and take time to listen. In our culture, I’ve noticed that politicians love to demonize certain groups of people. The two party system has gained success I think in part from the “us versus them” mindset. The formula goes something like this: First, you choose a people group who are different from the majority of your base and then you highlight how that group is not contributing. You point out the differences and create a mindset of fear. Then you talk about how life would be better if that people group would just change what they are doing. Politically, I think that this is a brilliant strategy because everyone loves having a villain to fight against.
Republicans seem to do this with immigrants and the poor, and Democrats do this with rich businessmen and women. The Republicans say, “Oh these immigrants are taking our jobs; if they would leave then your lives would be better. The Democrats say, “Oh if the rich people would just pay more in taxes, then our lives would be better.”
Then the jealousy starts. You start thinking “Yeah, that rich person has way too much money. I want some of their money.” Or “Those poor people are abusing our welfare system. If they would just work harder, maybe I wouldn’t have to.”
At no point do we stop and look at ourselves. This is the perfect trap for humans. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy taking responsibility for my actions. I like feeling validated in my opinion. I also don’t enjoy hearing about the suffering in the world. Our world is a broken place where people often experience violence, sickness, and pain. When I stop and pay attention to the experiences of others, it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me recognize how blessed I am. It also makes me want to do something to help.
I’m currently reading a book by a Jewish Rabbi, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who argues that poverty is the sign of a broken society. (Not implying that people who are poor are somehow at fault for their situation.) But that poverty is a sign that something isn’t functioning correctly in how society is operating.
Can we stop the noise and the name-calling? Can we actually listen to each other and try to understand what other people are going through? Perhaps with a little empathy and compassion, we can stop fear in its tracks and create change that helps everyone!