It’s human nature to feel the need to take advantage of a situation that is favorable to us. When something happens that puts us in a position to get what we want, we are all too quick to jump on the opportunity and we rarely think about the consequences of what seizing that moment might mean. In our tunnel vision focused on our goals, we act without really thinking about all the variables.
This is particularly true in our politics today. As power shifts from one political party to the other, there is a mad dash to cram as much legislation through the process as possible before the currently elected officials are voted out and the other side takes control. It is rare for either side to truly work with the other to get things done, and we are constantly watching as one side considers some sort of “nuclear option” to cram some random piece of law through the system in an attempt to bypass negotiation.
The problem is that this sort of diplomacy is exactly what has created many of the problems our country faces today. Rather than working together in common cause, we choose to fight for what we have decided are the most important things in a “my way or the highway” attitude. As we push our own agendas at the expense of respect, we fall further down the dark pathway of cloak and dagger backstabbing. Nothing really gets done because each side is at war with each other rather than figuring out where we can compromise.
What neither side seems to understand is that it is exactly these sorts of actions that cause more problems down the road. They are each stabbing themselves in the foot every time they try to unilaterally pass some sort of one sided ideological bill. The mad dash while they are in power causes them to forget that at some point the other side will have the reigns and it will be they who end up having to deal with the revenge of the other side.
This is the result of a society that has shirked any idea of mutual respect in favor of ideological agendas. We no longer believe in the idea of “live and let live”, because we all think that we know better than everyone else and have a responsibility to force people to “wake up”. It isn’t enough to just do our own thing and live our best lives for ourselves. We have to stick our fingers into the lives of others in an attempt to “fix them”.
We have a very visceral example of the unfortunate consequences of this sort of behavior when we examine gang violence. In that environment, each side believes it has to “one up” the other side once a conflict erupts between two factions. It starts with one killing, but the code of retaliation requires that eventually an all out war is started on the streets as each side attempts to subdue the other.
Politics is no different, and the stakes are no less deadly. For the moment, it doesn’t directly involve the loss of life, though if we look at the unintended consequences that can certainly be the case. For some, the direct consequences are far worse than losing one’s life; it is the loss of the freedoms that our country was founded on. As each side tries to force it’s own way, it forces a reaction from the other side and things escalate just the same way as happens in gang violence, and the cost is the freedom of each side to live their lives as they see fit.
There needs to be a new peace revolution in our nation where all sides make a commitment to pursuing legislation that provides both sides with as many of the things that they want as possible. There are certain things that we will never agree on, and it will require serious compromise between the political parties to come to some sort of middle ground that allows us to move forward. This simply can’t happen until both sides decide that respect is more important than winning. If we can adjust the way we approach each other and remember that “what goes around comes around” we can be in a far better position to heal the division in our nation.
What do you think about forcing your way on others? Have we become a nation that is totally fine with trampling on others to get our way, or is there hope for a more respectful dialogue in our politics? What steps can we take to get back to a place where we can truly respect our politicians? These are important questions to be answered if we want to have any hope of maintaining our position as the greatest country on the planet.
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