EDITORIAL: In 2020, let's resolve to listen, be nice and keep an open mind
The new year is upon us.
That can only mean one thing.
It’s time to make resolutions.
Well, we’d like to suggest a few resolutions for all of us in 2020, and they have nothing to do with eating less or exercising more.
No, these resolutions have to do with how we treat each other.
Given the bitterness of our political divide and the ugliness of our political discourse, it seems like an appropriate time to consider dialing back the overheated rhetoric just a bit.
It’s time to emerge from our social-media and cable-news echo chambers and start treating each other with some simple human decency, while also paying respect to viewpoints that may be different from our own.
Here are a few ways we can make that happen:
Resolution No. 1: Let’s resolve to listen more and talk less.
One of the great quotes in history, usually attributed to Abraham Lincoln, goes like this: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
Ol’ Abe was a pretty sharp dude. Unfortunately, not many of us pay heed to his wisdom.
Instead, many of us feel the overwhelming need to constantly spew our every waking thought at anyone within hearing distance, all in an effort to impress them with the enormity of our genius and the superiority of our viewpoints.
Not every idea that germinates in our heads needs to be immediately blurted out. Silence can truly be golden.
If you sit back and listen more, you may be amazed at what you actually learn.
Resolution No. 2: Let’s resolve to be nice.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In theory, it is easy. In practice, however, it’s often a different story. This is especially true in the social-media age.
In the Facebook and Twitter era, it’s all too easy to view every interaction with an “us-vs.-them” mentality. If you’re a member of my “tribe” we can be friends. If you belong to the other “tribe” we must be enemies.
Well folks, like it or not, we all belong to the same “tribe.” It’s called the human race. It may sound trite, but we must always remember there is much more that unites us than divides us.
The first step to that realization is simply being nice to everyone, no matter their political persuasion.
In person, that is relatively easy to do. Most decent folks tend to avoid ugly confrontations in person.
Online, however, it’s much easier to return to our “tribe” thinking and resort to name calling and stereotyping. To combat this unpleasantness, try to live by this mantra the next time you're on social media: If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t write it online.
Resolution No. 3: Let’s resolve to open our minds.
Let's actually consider the arguments from those on the other side of the political divide.
All too often, our knee-jerk reaction to an idea emanating from the other side is to dismiss it or deride it, without even really considering the merits of the concept.
Neither side has a monopoly on smart policies or smart people.
Let’s take the time to actually think rationally about opposing arguments, rather than simply reacting emotionally.
You may be amazed to learn that the other side actually has some sensible solutions to our many problems.
A Pollyanna solution? By now, many of you are likely thinking these resolutions represent a rather Pollyanna method of solving our serious red-blue rupture.
That may very well be true, but we must start somewhere if want to end our tribal isolation and remember we are one — hopefully united — nation.
Listening more, being nice and opening our minds seem like good places to start.