Stop and listen to one another

By Jessica Strand - Staff Reporter



Politics is a touchy subject.

Nothing else can threaten to harm a person's way of life or moral standers quite like the elected officials we choose. It's understandable that emotions run hot when politics are involved.

Unfortunately, some of the rhetoric that was spewed on the campaign trail has given merit to the beliefs of some unsavory individuals. And in turn it has put other individuals on the defensive.

This election season has shined a glaringly bright spotlight on just how divided our nation really is.

Many people feels disenfranchised by the government. So much so they have chosen to elect an individual whose rhetoric threatens to unravel the strides our nation has made in matters of equality, because the other option was viewed as "more of the same."

Not only is our government not listening to the public's needs, they no longer listen to each other -- especially at a federal level. With the constant stalls in Congress, the give-and-take in politics that makes government tick like a Swiss watch is becoming scarce.

When our elected officials plant their heels and are unwilling to work across the aisle -- give a little to get a little -- the whole thing falls apart just like the gears in a watch becoming entangled.

It's no wonder people feel dissatisfied. And it doesn't matter which side is to blame, the party in the Whitehouse is to blame in the publics eyes.

I went to a talk last week put on by the Association for Women in Communications titled After the Election: Notes from the Field. In this talk KING 5's political reporter, Natalie Brand spoke about the election.

Brand spoke about the urban-rural divide between communities. She said that bridging the divide starts at the local level with local city leaders.

What's needed for one community isn't always right for the next. The common ground needs to be found.

She spoke about the media having a responsibility to get out farther into rural communities.

I think this would be a great step forward. This would not only help those communities feel like they have a voice and are seen, it would also help the rest of the urban city residents understand where they're coming from.

I took a day-trip to the mountains this last weekend and on our way through the miles of fenced pastures that we passed I noticed Trump-Pence signs attached to several gates. Us city dwellers sometimes don't realize that we live in a well-insulated liberal bubble.

We the people don't understand one another, and we're not stopping to listen to each other.

It's understandable for people to see it as the responsibility of our elected officials, or the media to burst that bubble -- because really, that's what they have signed up for. But I think bridging the gap starts at an even more local level than our city officials.

If we want to see change it starts in our homes, with our neighbors. Talking to the people around us who we might not agree with.

Our city streets have seen several protests since Donald Trump was named president-elect. On Nov. 13 -- the weekend after the election -- I photographed a rally at Cal Anderson Park that turned into a protest march.

The information for the rally said it was open to everyone -- Clinton supporters and Trump supporters -- to come together in love and heal with each other.

It was a noble idea, but when a Trump supporter showed up wearing his Trump-Pence shirt with a sign reading "free hugs" he wasn't welcomed with open arms. There were a few individuals who were noticeably upset and who confronted him in anger.

Again, politics is a hard subject to come together over because of how it affects people on a personal level. And it's easy to think that because someone voted a certain way they must subscribe to everything that candidate stands for.

The truth is, there are several reasons why we vote for the candidates we vote for, and not all our views are aligned.

The election of Trump has given rise to an extremely racist, sexist, and bigoted minority who feel as if he validated their beliefs. That leads to justified fears.

But not all Trump supports fit in that category, just like not all undocumented immigrants are criminals and rapists.

In order to bridge the divide, we must be willing to let down our defenses and listen to one another. We need to not judge one another on who we voted for before really listening to the reason why. Everyone wants their feelings validated.

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