Like most students, I was appalled at the events that occurred at the Capitol Building. In a few short days, I am turning 18 years old, and as I am preparing to take my place as a voting citizen, I realize that this is not the democracy I was promised during my 8th grade Constitution unit. It is blinded by our differences and ignorant to our similarities.
Partisanship is driven by the refusal to leave the comfort of one’s political bubble. It not only impedes government efficiency, but it also sentences each American to political naivete and inherent hatred for the other side. Unless we pop our bubbles and join reality, there will be little to no progress because we cannot expect change without understanding.
Over the past year, everyone has been “tested” in a variety of ways. Between lockdowns, racial justice movements, and elections, frustration was the common expression on the faces of all Americans. In several instances, peaceful messages were overshadowed by violent outcries. The most glaring example is the attack on the Capitol Building. Predictably, each political side and their respective media offshoots presented differing versions of the violent events that took place over 2020 and seeped into 2021.
We shouldn’t be arguing over which violent offenses are more justified because, frankly, the United States, at its core, is a beacon for not only hope but peace. However, it is not enough to condemn violence. We must understand it. As hard as that may be, there are legitimate reasons behind everything, including irrational behavior. Discovering the root of frustration can provide a pathway to heal the wounds of violence and division.
If the country uses its nationwide frustration as the building block to healthy political discussions, unity is a feasible possibility. However, the responsibility of tolerance relies not only on our representatives in the nation’s capital but also on each citizen’s willingness to accept their fellow citizens.
Acceptance begins at the heart of our communication‒social media. Until we truly encourage political discourse based on truth and facts, we will only be privy to our version of the truth perpetuated by our choice in media outlets. We naturally distrust a headline, a journalist, or a set of facts based on their news source. This only divides us further, leading us to keep choosing a one-sided source of information.
Each political side feels misunderstood by the other, and until we understand and respect our differences, the nation is doomed to political cold wars, violent outbursts, and growing hatred at the expense of every American. We must decide between unity or destruction. The choice is ours, America.