It starts with respect.
In spite of the differences we share – in race, religion, political beliefs, ideology, culture, sexuality or anything else – we are united in our humanity. By respecting the humanity in one another, America can move past the political rhetoric that creates conflict and stands in the way of our goal of unity.
This ability to disagree civilly should be the model for how we coexist with one another in America. It’s ok to disagree on topics. It is useful for there to be multiple perspectives on any given topic. However, a difference of opinion should not lead us to alienate or disrespect one another. We ought to respect and embrace our differences.
Our lives are finite and precious, so it is incumbent upon us to value and treasure every precious relationship we have.
When you come from a place of respect, disagreements can be opportunities to know each other better rather than excuses to cut off contact. You can ask yourself why the other person feels the way they do. A person’s life experiences can make them feel ways we may not have considered. At the same time, we need to be sure we are effectively communicating our own position – and doing so with decency, consideration and respect. We don’t have to agree, but we should do everything we can to understand one another.
Differences should never separate or alienate us from others. Instead, they should be celebrated and used to bring us together. We are human beings living as parts of a larger human experience – no matter where we are from, what we believe in, or what we look like, we have the propensity to feel joy, sadness, pain, anger – and everything in between.
We may never meet each other, laugh together, cry together, or share any emotional connection, but that does not prevent us from caring about and respecting one another. Each of us is striving to do the best we can in an ever-changing world, and that gives us the capacity for empathy and compassion, despite differences.
This common regard for each other is the way forward for America.