After arguably the longest and most expensive political campaign ever, the election battle is over. President Obama won a second term and the country can now go back about the business of improving our nation. This requires that we come together. Are we united enough in our beliefs and values to work collaboratively?
There are many who focus on the differences and certainly the election lent itself to that, but we must return to our common goals, values and love of freedom. I believe Americans have much more in common than we might initially think. While we may have different ideas about how best to achieve our goals, the goals themselves are often similar. We strive to make a better life for our families, we seek new opportunities while we preserve our freedom and national security.
Let’s put things in perspective. We are Americans before we are republicans, democrats, independents, etc. Our country is amazing because it has survived and thrived despite changing political parties and more contentious debates over the past 200 years. Yes, I know that part might be hard to understand given today’s polarization. But we must remember our nation’s painful history too. There was the Civil War and then more recently the Civil Rights Movement. It’s noteworthy that both those events include the word civil yet neither was known for its civility.
Civility is a virtue that is often absent today as well especially in social media and discussion by political pundits. Americans are better than that. We must demand civility. This starts with ourselves. Carefully consider what you say, post and even that which you allow yourself to read, hear and watch. Remember the “garbage in, garbage out” philosophy. It’s difficult to maintain a level or respect for alternate points of view when surrounded by vitriol.
By all means exercise your freedom of expression. Do so mindfully, however. Rather than move the discussion further to the left or to the right, raise it to a higher level. When we require more of ourselves, we can demand more from our elected officials. Our country is a democracy and through collaboration, we can achieve great things.
Will critical thinkers rise up to embrace both civility and collaboration?