Is The United States Falling Apart?

Where I Stand Politically

Politics has always been a topic that frustrates me as much as it does fascinate me. If asked to choose between a party, I’d call myself a democrat, but I personally identify as independent. My own personal life experiences and opinions have helped mold that point of view, as is the case with anyone that has voted in an election. I would also like to add that I am not an expert when it comes to politics, locally, or globally. This article is my own opinion and should be taken as such with a grain of salt. 

I vote based on the candidates I feel will best move the country, and the world, in a direction that will make as many lives better as possible. And that rationale is why I will never judge someone for who they voted for, but rather why they voted. This article is perhaps a way of processing the events of the last year, and also to give you a glimpse of who I am as a person. Brew a cup of tea or coffee, settle into a chair under a blanket, and let’s have a discussion as human beings, not parties clashing. 

The Capitol Building Riot Was, and Is, A tipping Point

January 6th, 2021 is a day that will undoubtedly reflect in history books as a day of loss, and a turning point. The decisions we make as a country over the next few weeks and months will alter the timeline in history books. How it will shape the world is still being written, with much of the plot unknown to us. We’ve barely made it out of the first chapter of 2021, and the story arc of 2020 is far from being a closed book. With Covid-19 cases still on the rise, Donald Trump impeached a second time, and Joe Biden’s inauguration today, it’s fair to say that everyone is emotionally drained. 

With the dust of the last year still settling, where do we go as a country, and the world, from this point in time? One of the things that I think is key for the country to heal is taking a step back, and away from stereotypes formed. Not only those portrayed by the media but the ones we’ve created ourselves. I am hopeful that instead of viewing the riots throughout 2020 and 2021 as a representation of party values, conversations will begin about how we can work together to prevent the pain, as well as anger causing riots in the first place. The most essential asset we can bring to those conversations will be empathy and an open mind.    

We Need to Unify, Not Divide

I know that it is easier said than done, but as a country, we need to stop viewing politics as an “us versus them” issue. The only way we can move forward is by doing so together. No one will be entirely happy, but compromising is key. Even though I lean closer to the left side of the political spectrum, I have respect for those who are republicans. I don’t assume every republican is against the LGBTQ community, or wants to force religion down my throat. Are there some who may feel that way? Yes, and I won’t be able to change their opinions, just as they won’t be able to change mine. Not without both of us listening to each other, and understanding why we value what we do. 

I would rather sit down, have a coffee together, and discuss our hopes and fears for the country’s future. If both of us can walk away feeling a little better about our hopes, and less worrisome about our fears, that’s a win in my books. That’s how I personally feel progress will be made. It feels as if politics in the United States is a constant tug of war, but the citizens are the ones left with hands raw from rope burns. When will we let go of the rope and say “enough is enough?” Let’s move forward together as one. Having said that, what do we bring forward, and what practices should be left in the past?

 

Extremism Exists in Both Parties, but It Doesn't Define Them

One of my own criticisms of politics in the United States is the two-party system. Now, I know that our current party system is here to stay, at least for a while. While we may not be able to start from scratch, we can at least improve it. One of the aspects we can control are party stereotypes. Assumptions about the opposite party create a subconscious black and white view about those in office, as well as voters, when there is a wide gray scale in between. The United States has always been a melting pot, and democracy needs to embrace that concept. Those who rioted at the Capitol Building represent a small, extreme, portion of the republican, and other parties’ views. Just as those who started fires over the summer may have been extreme left, they weren’t all democrats. 

Were there some who used the events as smoke and mirrors only to cause further political divide? Absolutely. But I won’t take those events and create a face for a party based on those events solely. Please, seek out the due process and charge those that incite violence. But don’t punish or villainize an entire party or religion based on a small percentage of the followers. This applies to global religions as well, not just Catholicism and Christianity. Speaking of religion, that brings me to a pill that may be hard to swallow.

Religion Should Only Shape Your Own Life, Not Others' (Caution, This Section May Contain Trigger Material for Some)

If that heading offends you, please read it again. I know that what I’m about to say may ruffle feathers, but it needs to be said. I personally have a love/hate relationship with religion. Spirituality on the other hand I feel is something that we need more of in this world. And the reason that I say that is because of how different the two are. Religion is a fantastic resource for those who prefer a more structured set of rules and guidelines to live by, and improve their overall happiness. While it can be a great tool, and many do use it as so, it can easily turn toxic. What may be toxic for me, may not be toxic for you. That is why religion should not enter politics. 

One of the most common religious debates that is brought into politics, at least in the United States, is abortion, and gay marriage. Everyone has an opinion about both of these topics. If those areas are against your religion, claiming that God is against something is not enough of an argument to bring the argument into a courtroom. God cannot stand in a court of law, raise their right hand, and swear to tell the whole truth. Due to the separation of church and state, the bible is not a valid form of guidance for creating any law. 

Religion Needs to Take a Bow From Politics

We need to stop using religious platforms to influence politics, and use common sense and humanity. If you don’t want abortions to exist in this world, rather than making them illegal, provide the tools and resources to lower unplanned pregnancies. I’m not suggesting that we need to abolish the church, or take God out of society. I don’t mind if people wish me Merry Christmas, or say God Bless. I know that deep down it’s coming from good intentions. We do need to create healthy boundaries with religion, however. The United States’ laws were built off of the constitution, not the bible.  

What Now?

The above sections are blunt, and I’m sure some may view them as harsh. I don’t wish to cause offense. But sometimes it is necessary to start a conversation. I can’t say for sure what will help unify this country. However, kindness, compassion, and perhaps trying to listen more than we speak are all good starting points. Stop assuming those that may disagree with you are the enemy, they’re human beings, like you and I. If you see a news article that you wish to share, always fact check it before posting. That remains true whether it is an article to support your own argument, or as a rebuttal to others’. Perhaps the most difficult challenge will be not to fight hatred with hate. You may not be able to love them, but by listening to each other, I’m hopeful we can learn to cooperate as one country. Is the country falling apart? Possibly, but we aren’t past the point of no return; not yet, at least.   

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