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Polarized versus Unified

Are you glad that the elections are finally over? We all get so tired of the advertisements, especially since many of them are negative and downright caustic. What has caused our country to become so divided and divisive? Of course this question doesn't have a simple answer and there are a multitude of layers that contribute to our hostility. Our level of trust in our government leaders has eroded over time partly because of their diminishing morality. While certainly there are many politicians that are trustworthy and govern with integrity, unfortunately, many government officials and people in positions of power abuse their authority, make bad choices, and disregard their moral compass. They decide that the rules are different for them and it is less about serving their country and more about serving themselves. Some powerful people believe that they are entitled to special treatment and expect others to accommodate their needs. Why has the country been pulled apart by these issues?

Sadly, the state of affairs with our government often revolves around turmoil, drama, and illegal or immoral behaviors. Our leaders and the news media fill us with fear or anger which creates a horrible mix of negative emotions. The public doesn't always know the truth and we seek understanding sometimes by assigning blame. We have moved further right or left depending upon our affiliation in an effort to defeat the party that keeps our negative feelings going. Most of us can agree that pervasive conflict and chronic turmoil is nonproductive and unhealthy, yet we inadvertently perpetuate it. Unfortunately these conflicts in our country have spilled over into our community, friendships, and even family. Some have lost friendships and relationships over differences of opinion related to our political beliefs. What can be done to heal and find unification?

For starters, focus on what binds us together. We live in a democratic society, a free country, and have tremendous opportunities that others don't share. We are relatively safe, can practice whatever religion we desire, and can speak freely. Most of us have clean water, food, and shelter. Be thankful for all of that. Secondly, we need to respect each other and appreciate different perspectives without feeling compelled to argue the opposing position. Listen to understand, rather than to respond. Limit the time we spend talking about political viewpoints or watching the talking heads espouse their opinions and focus more on the people in our lives. Personally, my motto for news media is "less is more." Our repeated exposure to negative, conflictual news intensifies fear, anxiety, and anger. We seek understanding and knowledge, but gain very little of either since the media have their own bias. Our country, our community, and our family can accomplish more when we learn to compromise, recognize we're on the same team, and value each other. Let's make an effort to work towards being a united team rather than a divided one. We can produce better results when we're unified.

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