It is nearly impossible to escape the abundance of political issues that have been occurring. Whether you are in school, walking around a city, in church, on social media, or having a simple day-to-day conversation, you will probably hear or see a reference, joke, or opinion on some political topic. Politics has sneakily made its way from THE topic that you should never discuss, to a topic that will always inevitably make its way into a conversation.
Politics simply isn't for everyone. Not everyone enjoys discussing the US’s involvement in Afghanistan or how our country should handle taxes; however, those people who prefer not to discuss politics often brush off vital discussion topics such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, and sexism, in an attempt to clear their lives of politics.
This recent election has created a sharp partition between the left and the right, stimulating extremely hateful and, at times, violent relationships between the two. Thus, when liberals discuss real and pressing issues pertaining to human rights, such as the unjust killing of black men and the oppression of the LGBTQ+ community, some non-liberals brush it off as “liberal propaganda.”
Believing that our country should not oppress a certain group of people solely due to their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or nationality should not be “liberal propaganda.” It should be a belief that most people can easily agree on and support in 2017.
It is natural for Americans to disagree on partisan issues such as taxes, war, and religion. Conservative opinions are not wrong and liberal opinions are not wrong. In fact, it is incredibly healthy to discuss political issues with someone who disagrees with you. Political discourse is one of the very values that our country was founded on, and a diversity of political opinions only strengthens us all; however, debates on the mere identities of humans, such as whether all races, genders, sexual orientations, or religions should be accepted in our country, are not healthy political conversations.
Instead of defending our political siding in these conversations, we need to stop and listen to the other side’s experiences. Some conservatives may not be posting about equal pay because they haven’t yet been able to distinguish between human rights and their political siding. Some conservatives may not be marching in Black Lives Matter protests, for example, because they did not grow up in an environment that exposed them to these issues. We cannot attack those who do not yet understand the difference between Human Rights and political beliefs. We, instead, need to help them understand our point of view by sharing experiences and exchanging stories, so that people who were complacent due to ignorance or a lack of experiences can grow and learn why you feel the way that you do.
This works both ways-- a liberal woman can learn why a conservative feels the way he does about immigration reform if she listened to his stories and experiences. Just because someone's experiences are different than yours doesn't mean they're wrong.
In these conversations, you should be able to make mistakes. While some demand political correctness, we need to allow space for our friends to learn more about our opinions and how to navigate human rights issues. We need to do more listening and less arguing. In order to grow as a society, we have to guide each other through this dialogue.
We need to stop brushing off issues of human rights because we automatically believe that they do not align with our political beliefs. Whether you're conservative or liberal, you should not support racism, sexism, or Islamophobia. If you say that you love America, then you should love all that America is; a melting pot of different races, nationalities, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and experiences. You can't choose to only love a part of America, such as the part that agrees with you or the part that identifies the same way as you.
It is no longer about politics -- it's about getting to know the people around you on a deeper level. It's about no longer silencing voices and confining people to a set number of categories. It's about allowing our country to benefit all Americans equally.
Let’s expose ourselves to different mindsets. Let’s carefully listen to different sides and opinions on certain issues. Let’s continue to move forward and learn about each other, and stop ignoring these lessons due to your dislike of politics, or even worse, your dislike of political beliefs that differ from yours.