It’s that time of year. The year of the election cycle and nonstop partisan pleas for our vote.
Politics in the U.S. has been a “team” sport since the founding yet we have an amplified view through different media and content sources.
Sometimes it’s easy to pick a side and ignore the bad aspects of it while only focusing on the negatives of our perceived opponents.
We have to run a gauntlet of conflicting information to find the truth. Most times we can’t find the truth until we take the time to examine the situation and ourselves.
With any topic we can imagine, it seems to be there are always at least three camps.
The majority of people being for or against something, and the few left in the middle who try to pick out positive things from both sides.
I think I will do nothing for a long time but listen, and accrue what I hear into myself…and let sounds contribute toward me. – Walt Whitman (Leaves of Grass)
The difficulty in choosing sides
The sides in an issue may or may not be obvious and are dependent on initial impressions or current beliefs. Or it can be more subtle and full of multifaceted value decisions.
Such as choosing a side to support politically because we think they best represent what we believe or believing in a certain cultural or regional attitude.
Sometimes we don’t think about it and we go with what our friends, family, or community are favoring.
Most times it seems like we are choosing something based on the negatives of the alternatives instead of the positives of our options.
As we often find, having a rigid belief or unchangeable belief can lead to some strange mental or emotional situations.
We can find ourselves in multiple, often contradictory stances on various issues; issues can be complicated as are our perspectives and biases.
This could lead us to, maybe by accident, alienate friends and family, as we embrace imperfect systems.
This could be because we don’t have an understanding of our personal values or if our values are what we think they are.
Are we able to adjust our positions to best reflect your true self? I think so, but only after serious introspection.
Choose your position from a position of knowledge
Choosing a position on an issue can be stressful. It can display faults in our reasoning leaving us unsure about what we believe. Do we want to believe what everyone else believes?
What if they’re right to believe in something and we’re wrong not to believe? These are the superficial stresses we can encounter when we go with uninformed opinions and gut reactions.
It takes will and strength of character, strong self-reflected values, and a willingness to do the research for truth.
It’s up to us to find the strength and necessity to tell the difference between the positions and explain to others what we believe.
It gives us a strength to be skeptical about what we are presented.
Challenging your knowledge
The difficulty lies within the search to our answers. Facts, as we can understand them, can be stubborn things when they collide with our core beliefs.
What do we or how do we react when we find out that what we believe is wrong?
Do we retreat into holding on to a lie or do we take the hard path in reconstructing our beliefs? I believe in the latter.
It takes a strength of will, personal character, and integrity to follow a perceived truth to where it takes us, even if it causes emotional and intellectual discomfort.
We are social in our natures so we are inclined to join a group. Yet, figuring out what group to join accompanies hard choices. More often than not we stick with the groups we started with because of a few reasons.
We agreed with them at one time so it’s easy to maintain that relationship, we haven’t grown as a person so we stagnate in the same pool of ideas.
Or, we don’t know how to challenge ourselves and we keep our groups to maintain our egos.
There are many excuses we can use to stay in place but that offers no real benefit to us. The groups we start with may not be the right groups.
If we think about it, we are all alike in one way, with our human frailty and subject to poor judgment from time to time.
A team mentality
I think we often consolidate our views and beliefs into a “My Team” attitude.
Sometimes we think we should have a loyalty to our team whether they are right or wrong, winning or losing. We can have a mentality that this is my team and I’m sticking with them.
I can understand this perspective for sports team yet this doesn’t seem to be right when we think about political organizations or multi-national corporations that wield influence and large donations.
We are inundated with information from politicians, trade unions, think tanks and related organizations, political movements, and social media echo chambers.
When we see information flow from these organizations we need to think about their goals and values, remembering that they are as imperfect as we are.
Binary thinking, seeing things groups as only right or only wrong is dangerous and blocks us from valuable information for us to make our own choices.
As we try to make our own choices this will occasionally lead to disagreements. We should be able to have disagreements without criticizing each other personally.
It’s always a weak argument for arguing our point once we start attacking the messenger and not the message.
As you take in all the information presented to you, take a moment to think about where that information is coming from and what their goals are.
Think about if your goals are the same as theirs and whether or not you completely agree. It might be a good sign if you don’t completely agree.
You’ll know it when you have this feeling and thoughts that something isn’t right. Use this as an opportunity to take time to consider what you believe and how it fits with what they believe or do.
If you are unsure about the issue, try to take time to look at it from both sides. See what the groups are for or against and think about that side is closest to your goal and views.
This can be done for any group you’re interested in joining.
Think about the possibility that both sides may be right and wrong at the same time. They might be right about one point and wrong about the other.
Be aware of people trying to evoke emotional responses when they have weak positions in their arguments.
It’ll take some work and time to examine ourselves and them. We have the power within ourselves to sort through the noise and look within our selves for what we believe.
We must be willing to be true to yourself above any other consideration.
In the end, what we believe and who we believe, the choice is ultimately ours.
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