In a world where people claim to champion diversity, we tend to forget a certain kind: diversity of thought.
Long gone are the days where people learned to agree to disagree and understand that you can rarely change someone’s political stance at the dinner table. For generations, Americans understood how to have a level of mutual respect for one another, one that maintained families and friendships, despite differences in political affiliation. And for a long time, teenagers lived freely, caring more about each others’ music taste or favorite outing than whether or not you fit the ideal ‘”progressive teen” mold.
Entering the most intensive part of the 2020 election cycle, students are likely finding themselves pitted against family members with opposing political beliefs. Those disagreements could be divisive, depending on how you handle it. As absurd as it may sound to some, students need to remember how exactly to behave in these sometimes challenging and heated discussions. Students need to sit back and ask themselves how much they can really accomplish in a discussion, and consider whether calling out an elderly grandparent for their unfavorable political beliefs is more destructive than productive. They need to prioritize friendships, kindness and common decency before choosing to judge and scapegoat people for who they voted for this week.
I get it – it’s easy to forget about decorum when politics is always on your mind. We’re constantly fed information on the news and social media, pushing us to share or post our own hot takes. In some ways, modern-day politics have made the District a never-ending soap opera that GW students are in the depths of. We feel obliged not to befriend someone who holds opposing political beliefs, and we call people out when we don’t agree with them. But we don’t need to cut those off who we don’t like. We could try to hold a civil discourse and learn how to live with diversity of thought.
The United States has a lot of maturing to do. Just look at the past couple of presidential debates. But let’s try to uphold decency through the chaos. We need to understand that political beliefs aren’t made in a vacuum – they’re based on factors like lived experience and education. We need to think twice before attacking someone else for their political beliefs. I’m not saying you can’t point out your disagreement, but blasting someone else without holding a conversation is unproductive.
In the spirit of embracing kindness and love as a life manifesto, each and every one of us should not let political divisions tear us apart. We already face the daily challenge of social isolation and emotional vulnerability, and we cannot let our rage over new tweets from the president or absurd statements by extremist politicians get the best of us. Instead, perhaps it may be best to channel the oddly correct position of former presidential candidate Marianne Williamson of “harnessing love for political purpose” this election.
As members of the GW community, we are responsible for fostering a community of compassion and acceptance, which extends to political affiliation. While GW is a deeply political school, we need to learn to take the politics out sometimes and just be kind to one another. It’s important now, and it will be especially important in the weeks to come.
Sam Raus, a freshman, is an opinions writer.