Listening and Understanding are Needed in American Politics


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If you were to walk into any city in America, looking at any set of posters or signs, you will surely see a political statement. Between the posters representing Democratic agenda, the ads on your Facebook feed advertising the Republican agenda, and appeals for every different ideology under the sun, some person or another is calling out for you to join their party.

Political parties can provide amazing opportunities for people to advocate and participate in the government. Parties give us the opportunity as citizens to meet like-minded people and respectfully advocate for what we believe is the best for the country. However, it’s become increasingly evident that every party believes that their own line of thinking is the correct one, usually assuming other views are wrong or flat-out false without any due consideration. The more and more we think that only our views are right, the more we are actually hurting our government, and therefore ourselves, by refusing to listen to what others have to say.

In an “ideal utopian society” in the United States of America, everyone would feel respected and that their opinions are heard and treated with dignity. No one would be offended by anyone else and mutual respect would become the norm. Unfortunately, utopian societies don’t exist in any actuality on the level that is required to run a country. But it’s on us to resolve and improve on society, to constantly make it better and better, even if utopia is impossible.

Part of fixing society involves identifying and analyzing its problems, and in my own experience, one of America’s biggest issues politically is that there is no longer the desire to listen to others or their opinions. By listening, I don’t mean that we hear each other speak, or acknowledge that others speak in contrast to ourselves. True listening involves absorbing what someone else is expressing to you, and to attempt understand their ideas.

There is a widespread lack of effort to understand people who are different from us and to conceptualize others’ feelings. Americans, in the political sphere, have become so self-important that we disregard others who don’t agree with us just on the basis that they disagree. We are all so offended by the fact that others challenge our views that we don’t even bother to understand why. We only care that they think differently from ourselves, and therefore we must be right.

When we are so focused on being right, we become entirely inconsiderate of others’ opinions. When this occurs, we no longer care about understanding or listening to them, and we do society a great disservice. This affects every aspect of our lives, and productivity in the government is inadequate if neither side is willing to listen to the other.

When we stop listening and understanding others, decisions made are not in the best interest of everyone. Making decisions that benefit all people involves understanding what affects those people on a day-to-day basis, and that is impossible without being able to put yourself in someone else’s place and knowing what is most important to them.

Americans are closed off from each other, and we are all so disconnected that it is almost as if we are not a unified people, just multiple groups who live in the same space. Sure, our economy needs fixing, our foreign policy can use some work, and socially we could be doing monumentally better, but none of this can be fixed or even discussed if America doesn’t muster the courage to sit down and open its ears.

America doesn’t need the next political big-hitter to tell others he or she is the most correct person on the planet—what America really needs is open conversation, the maturity to work together, and the ability to disagree with others while still understanding and respecting them.