Elections are my Super Bowl; when the debates and conventions take over prime time television, I whip out the junk food, plant myself on the couch, get pulled into the drama, and stay up late at night to watch the “post-game” analysis. I’m one step away from wearing a jersey and some face paint.
This is bad news for my husband, Brian. Because when the only thing more powerful than a man’s video game addiction is his wife’s addiction to coverage of presidential elections, he begins wishing there were a second TV in the house.
Brian knows that following the election with me is stressful. It means he must listen to speeches from the presidential candidate and political party we will NOT be voting for this November– an activity which tends to send his blood pressure through the roof. Despite my concern for his health, I don’t fast forward through those speeches. I watch them from start to finish, rewind the important parts, and hit “pause” to discuss each major point.
See, ever since I began researching and advocating for Peace & Justice last year, I’ve been making a concerted effort to immerse myself in subcultures that hold seemingly opposite views to mine. It’s taught me 4 very important lessons:
- Your “opponents” are not as awful and foolish as you think they are.
- The stereotypes you believe about your opponents are just as unfair as the stereotypes they believe about you.
- The other team actually has some good ideas.
- It’s wise to blend their best ideas with your best ideas.
It’s easy to only seek out information that affirms your existing beliefs. But it’s brave to acknowledge that you don’t know the whole truth. And it’s even braver to step out of your comfort zone to find it.
So for me, following politics holds great potential for personal growth. And that’s a compelling reason to keep the TV on, even as my husband shakes and convulses from video game withdrawal.
Following politics, however, is not always easy. A frustrated friend on Facebook posted the following status update: Political ads are giving me a headache. I’m finally going to be able to vote in the presidential elections this November and I don’t know who to vote for. Who’s lying…who’s not…or who’s lesser of the 2 evils…. Grrrr!
All I can tell my friend is that both sides are lying a little (mostly by omission) for the sake of winning more votes. Half-truths make great sounding speeches because they appeal to our emotions and our biases, not logic.
So it’s your job to hear all sides (including the ones that challenge your existing ideas), and to find the missing pieces of all those half-truths. Listen with a critical ear to all the carefully crafted speeches and biased media outlets, and do your own research. Oh, and if you really want to get fancy, learn about the psychology of your political biases. Do this and your vote will be cast wisely.
Truth starts at the intersection of everyone’s needs and opinions. Political balls are about having the patience and humility to listen.
Your Turn: What roles do wisdom and courage play in your politics?