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Can Compassion be a Part of Political Conversation?

Teresa Carey Words 13 Comments

Election Day!

This is not a post about politics, it’s a post about understanding.

How does the election relate to my blog Sailing, Simplicity and the Pursuit of Happiness? Simplicity is a values based lifestyle and most people also vote according to their values. But both sides of the political argument have support from simple living advocates. Our ideas of simplicity are as unique as the people who choose to explore that lifestyle.

Here are five things that I believe most Americans agree on:

1) That we want the freedom to pursue our unique dreams.
2) That we want to feel safe.
3) That all citizens are equal.
4) That we want to be accepted as individuals, yet still be a part of a community.
5) That we hope our leaders will strive for solutions to our problems that will allow both parties to be pleased with our future.

Here are a six topics who’s ideas differ in our political leadership:

1) The meaning of freedom.
2) The meaning of community.
3) How to effect safety.
4) How to accomplish freedom of religion.
5) What is moral.
6) The meaning of simplicity.

That is the beauty of America. We can disagree, we can unite, we can argue, we can win, and we can lose.

I wish I could sit down with someone who has the opposite opinion than me and tell them how I feel and have them respond with, “I understand.” And then I wish they could explain to me how they feel so that I’m compelled to also say, “I understand.” I wish the same for our leaders.

I wonder if we can self-moderate our comments on this post to keep the discussion about the political process, the unified values of our country, and how we could infuse more compassion into this process that sometimes feels like a battle. Its hard to do. There are plenty of other places on the web to campaign for your candidate, but perhaps here is where we can all come together and agree. That’s the challenge I’m presenting today. That’s the conversation I want to have.


Comments 13

  1. Captain Tom

    If we don’t all unite against BOTH parties that have remained in power, they will continue to erode our rights until no one will be able to speak out against them. Let’s clear the criminals out of D.C., then we can continue our bickering about other issues later. Otherwise we will no longer have the right to bicker, or argue, or disagree.

  2. Travis C.

    Thanks Teresa. I know I often feel out of place. I’m a conservative, but I can’t stand the “bashing” that many on both sides like to partake in. I’d like to say that while I disagree with many of the stands on political issues, I really try to understand why that view is important, empathize with why that side feels/believes the way they do, and authentically desire the above five agreements for us all. Again, thanks for having the gumption to post! Here’s to a great day at the polls!

  3. Rick Patton

    I believe both men want what is best for this country however they are going to go about it in completely different ways. I strongly believe we don’t need a larger government to get it done. We somehow have to incorporate the best from both parties to make this great nation stronger.

  4. Shawn

    In the past decade the meaning and function of politics seems to have changed. It feels far more aggressive, malevolent in way. Everyone has an opinion as to what the right track is for the country, no one seems to have that compassionate way of working the issues out.

    You bring up something interesting to think about. I am sure 50 years ago politics were just as cutthroat, but I get the impression that there were more hands reaching across the political aisle to get the best for the country to happen. I have to wonder if some of the other parties that had more middle ground would actually be a smarter course of action at this point.

    Thanks for the food for thought!

  5. Paul

    We’re too quick to pass responsibility to political representatives and “leaders”. The very existence of politicians is because of our pathological desire to create the circumstances that allow us to project our responsibilities onto others, and later blame those others when things don’t turn out out as we wanted them to. It won’t matter who we clear out if we continue to invest our hopes and dreams in the new-comers that replace them without us taking personal responsibility at every level of politics.
    Allied to that, many people don’t have the skills to have an intelligent debate without insulting or disrespecting anyone with a contrary view. We often don’t want to consider that any opinion different to our own could be valid in any way. We think that given access to the same info we should all reach the same conclusions, and anyone that doesn’t is just an idiot, or not one of our tribe, and should be shouted down or bullied into submission. But clearly this does not respect or validate the background, experience and values of the other participants. Really what we should seek to do is take the assumptions buried in these different conclusions as a result of different backgrounds and make them explicit. From a point of view of deep respect for one another, we can examine the assumptions and underlying values with a cooler head, and a view to building a shared vision of the future.
    All in all this means a vote is just a small part in a far larger political process which we each need to own. IMHO Then and only then we we get the kind of miraculous change we’re wishing for.

  6. Brian

    Paul is right on with the statement, “we’re too quick to pass responsibility to political representatives and leaders”. We do this by showing up to vote once every 4 years. Nobody wants to talk about politics. It’s taboo. I do try and have civil dialog with those around me, however, I’m always instructed to “not talk politics”. If people don’t even WANT to talk about it, how can we learn to understand each other from the most basic elements – our friends and family? I love my friends and my family. Even those I disagree with politically, but if we can’t even talk to our loved ones how are we supposed to talk to strangers to reach an understanding? This is where it needs to start.

  7. Aaron

    I agree. My point of view is in general with our government period. I feel the taking of my income in the form of income taxation is an unconstitutional tax, as it is a direct tax that is not apportioned (equally spread out among the citizens). I feel that when the federal government gets involved in something, it drives up cost for citizens. The federal government isn’t exactly thrifty, they expect us to balance our check book, they should balance theirs.

  8. Paul H

    The primary reason politics has become so nasty is the intersection of two facts, 1) our government now controls so much of what is important to us, and 2) there are two competing views as to the role of government in people’s lives. The first fact pretty much speaks for itself, and the degree to which that is good or bad hinges on how one views the second fact. So it is the second fact where any meaningful conversation needs to be held. My own view was the prevailing view of the Enlightenment era best summed up by George Washington, “government is not compassion, it is not wisdom, it is not morality…it is force”. Those who would use government as a vehicle for compassion are, I believe, acting out of a noble human instinct, but their actions do not sit well with people of a like mind to my own, since the history of empowering a government to solve all of life’s ills and grievances (real or perceived) is not a good one. And so people argue over specific policies (health care, welfare benefits, pay for teachers) without addressing the real reason they disagree. People talk past one another, and the political conversation gets polarized and very frustrating. Those who would empower government in this way do not understand why those of us who oppose it could be so uncaring; those of us who fear the historic danger of a powerful government do not understand how the lessons of history can be so lost. My own fear is that in fighting each discrete issue without regard for the growing power of the state, neither political party bothers to look up and see the larger danger looming before us. Even if the people in government now are, arguable, there for the best of intentions, what is the future prospect of giving them more and more power, whatever the purpose? Or, in other words, what types of people will be attracted to that power?

    1. Chris Troutner

      Very well put Paul! I agree with everything you stated.

      To put it another way, isn’t the core problem that separates people over political issues philosophical? Very few people view the serious study of philosophy as important, yet how can we expect to have a serious conversation on politics without establishing some philosophical ground rules?

  9. Jim McIntire

    This is the most civil conversation about politics that I have ever witnessed. If only my collages could express their views so eloquently. Thank you Teresa for sparking this dialog.

  10. Caleb

    Overall I see this era of political reign as a question of our equality, rights, freedoms and moral responsibilities being being shifted around. I wonder how this era will be represented in the history books.

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