Understanding the Other

Changing the Way People Approach Politics

It is common knowledge that politics is extremely controversial and that there is a growing political rift in the status quo. The reason for this, I believe, is that people are too focused on what divides them rather than what unifies them. So how can we, as high school students, make political discussions more productive? Although open-minded approaches can help us acknowledge different perspectives, it is vital that we also use active-minded approaches to politics which ensure that we are making continual progress together. The acknowledgement of issues concerning racism, sexism, homophobia, political issues etc. does not provide solutions to today’s moral, political, and social problems. An active-minded approach still engages in the process of asking what is morally right and wrong but also requires that people give reasons for thinking a certain way. This approach to politics suggests that even if individuals with drastically different opinions cannot compromise, they can at least learn to genuinely accept each other’s differing, yet valid, opinions. 

Action Plan:

  1. Challenge yourself to read 3 articles from sources you generally would not consider. Do this to acquaint yourself with other perspectives that are different than your own.
  2. Start a conversation with someone who thinks differently than you. Go into this conversation with an open mind, using words like “curious” and “fascinated” rather than going into it angrily thinking that you will change someone’s mind. Try to understand different perspectives, do not expect to change them.
  3.  Start to understand why people think the way they do. This is not for the purpose of convincing them that the way they think is wrong, but rather to help you understand all sides of an issue. This does not mean that you must change the way you think, simply grow to accept why others think differently.
  4. Question the assumptions of those with differing viewpoints and values and look to see if there is anything you do not understand. The point of this is not to change your own perspective on different political issues, but rather to expand your own understanding of both sides of the issue. Keep in mind that political issues fall on a spectrum and there will always be opinions that contradict your own. Learn to analyze and make “friends” with the entirety of the issue.