Banning Communication

The American people have passed a self-made ban. It is not a ban on a specific demographic, but a ban on communication.

Politics have made it impossible to communicate. When someone brings up a topic, I cringe in anticipation, waiting for the engine room to blow, for the ship to go down. No one, including myself, feels confident sharing opinions for fear of backlash.

I’m ashamed to admit that, to admit my fear to speak my mind. I used to attempt expressing my thoughts, but each time it was met with eyerolls, anger and self-righteousness; a handful of individuals have deliberately gotten up and left the lunch table or classroom. After multiple failures to even have an educated discussion, I gave in. I am not proud of giving up my voice; I cannot express the shame I feel in admitting that I do not know how to fight for my self-expression.

This situation is not limited to Mason. The New York Times published an article discussing inclusion of election decisions on the list of roommate requirements. Standards like “Trump supporters need not apply,” or “Hillary supporters are encouraged to look elsewhere.” We are segregating ourselves based on our beliefs. I cannot see how anyone expects that to end positively.

Forbidding exposure to other experiences inhibits progress. That’s why sexism and racism benefit no one; that’s why there’s such a movement to accept sexualities. We’ve made such huge steps in progress; of all things to send us spiraling backwards, this election is where America falls to pieces? One clown sitting in the oval office versus another? That’s what sinks us?

This nation is not made of miniature Trumps and Clintons. It’s made of individuals with struggles and families. People breaking their backs to go to work, raise children, defend the nation, people who are Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives; being one over the other does not exempt someone from the grueling process of life.

I heard someone claim recently they couldn’t talk to Trump supporters because they “don’t understand” who would support a candidate that said such things.

Here’s how.

A family friend runs his family-owned restaurant to pay for his six-year-old daughter to live. Hillary wanted to implement a $15 minimum wage, and he couldn’t afford that. He would not be able to pay every single one of his employees $15 an hour; his business would crumble. When he voted for Trump on on election day, I doubt he looked at his daughter and thought “Voting for the blatantly and disgustingly sexist candidate is the right choice.” I have a feeling he thought about keeping a roof over her head.

Understanding another’s perspective is not hard. The problem is, no one wants to listen to other perspectives. It’s easier to pretend the other person is bigoted than to accept they are your neighbor.

Every issue is divided. Every opinion is “right” or “wrong” despite the fact that an opinion can be neither. We have built walls that make every topic a question of “Are you on my side, or their side?” It’s a recipe for self-destruction. When we stop seeing each other as peers, we lose our strength in unity. When we start seeing each other as opponents, we take a sledgehammer to our foundation. Our country is weakening because we are too arrogant to listen when people speak.

Americans are all in the same boat. If we cut that boat in half, we are idiots for not guessing what’s going to come next. I would rather struggle with someone on the “other side” than drown separately.


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