Facebook, social media, talk shows and television commercials are deluged with negative talk about candidates and the people that support them. In such discourse, many go beyond canvassing the issues and instead attempt to debate the characters and intellect of those who have opposing beliefs. In these moments, it is akin to childhood playground dynamics. Children engage in this kind of behavior to feel included, to find their place, to deal with awkward social differences. The hypothesis here is that sometimes this occurs in the political arena. It is critical to teach ourselves, as we do our children, to be kind to those that are different than us, those that don’t know as much as us, those that we don’t agree with or even like very much. We tell our kids to be gracious, state your point, and move one. It would be ideal if we saw more of that as we move into the peak of the campaign season and the critical mass enters the discussion.
If we don’t, our country gets colored with a brush that none of us should feel good about. That we as a country are divided and separate in a way that makes us vulnerable, weakened and unfocused. The precious right of free speech should be fiercely protected-- that is non-negotiable. But we would all benefit from checking in with how we deliver our own personal message around our political beliefs. And why.
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