What do you think explains the current political climate?
- Half the country is made up of f-ing idiots.
- The elections were stolen.
- People are helpless sheep, easily manipulated by dangerous, dark forces.
- All of the above.
Sorry, all of those answers are unacceptable, no matter how tempting they might be.
Even if they were 100% true, none of them would be an answer we can work with.
Suppose you are right in your take on the issues. Half the country see them differently. You're not really so egotistical as to believe them all to be less intelligent, less educated, and less wise than you, let alone less kind, generous, thoughtful, and loving. There are reasons these people believe the way they do. It's important to understand them.
Suppose any given election was won by nefarious means, cheating, gaming the system, or error? Some of them have been, guaranteed. And it's nothing new; what's novel is that the effects are so nationally important. Our COVID response ushered in radical changes to our voting system, and faith in its integrity is understandably very low. It will take everyone on board to restore that; we must get beyond the elementary school playground level of "I lost, therefore you cheated" and "I won, therefore the elections were fair."
Are we being manipulated by outside forces? By conspiracies, cabals, demons, extraterrestrial aliens, or self-important elites with unprecedented wealth and power? I'm inclined to think the chances are well above zero. But mostly I think we are just too busy, too tired, and too stressed to be able to resist the currents that push us.
I believe our only hope is to think small. We can't fix the world. But we can be good neighbors.
Get to know people whose opinions you despise. Work with them. Eat with them. Find something in common that you like to do and do it together. Serve together for a common cause.
In being good neighbors, we might learn how to take the next step.