“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Ernest Hemingway
Everyone is born with a perspective. The list of variables that affect our perspective is endless, from our parents, lack of parents, social status, race, religion, educational opportunity, etc. These variables shape us to bond with people of similar backgrounds, and every now and then we bond with those from very different perspectives, and this in my opinion, is real progress.
Yet, more and more Americans seem to grow further and further apart based on our personal perspectives on issues in politics, economy, and national priorities. However, there is at least one area that most Americans agree, and at an alarming rate (but not surprisingly): CONGRESS’ APPROVAL RATING. According to the Gallup Poll, 83% of Americans disapprove of Congress’ actions, and only 13% approve of their actions. This is bad. It’s like really bad, I always thought of Warren Buffet’s suggestion to make all congressmen ineligible for reelection if there was a deficit of more than three percent of the GDP, should be real and apply to other issues. While Americans agree that our lawmakers are failing at their job, there are NO other major issues in which we are more passionately in agreement. But aren’t they just a representation of the people? Is that not their role, to represent us? So why we hating on them for doing something right?
Now this is not a new concept, so what’s missing, why am I bringing this up today? Emotion.
Americans have become such emotional beings to the point that reason and logic do not work anymore, even for the greater good. The conversations during the recent Ferguson police incident are proof enough. There are too many white Americans who are completely devoid of the idea that racism still exists or that this incident was racially motivated. In the same breath, there are too many Black Americans who speak as if the white people who care about black people advancing or getting justice are a very small minority. A month ago, I would have said these were extreme sides of the spectrum, but after reading the news, social media, and talking with people the old fashioned way, I am truly amazed by the perspectives that I hear. There are quite a few people who really do feel this way, and you wonder are you out of touch or are they? Or maybe could the conversations just stick to the script of change, justice, and real community improvement in authentic terms instead of sound bites and jabs that continue to widen the gap. No, because Emotion sells. And is selling at large numbers. But are these emotions genuine?
The last time Congress’s approval rating was at 90%? It was after 9/11, and the ratings stayed at 80% for two months following one of the most damaging tragedies in American History. Pure emotion. No one can forget the unadulterated, raw patriotism, and pride that transformed the nation at that time, but it was based on a true emotion. Today, our emotions are pulled and prodded for money, likes on Facebook, fame, etc. And every issue that we agree or disagree about today is focused on bringing out our emotions so the deepening divide continues. It’s as if we don’t want to work together, compromise or listen, but America like all other great powers can waste away, except it won’t be by the hands of others, but of our own hand…
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness….” – Declaration of Independence
So what needs to be altered or abolished, maybe our close-minded perspective? Instead of reaching over to the other aisle, maybe, we should start from within, and look in the mirror, and challenge our own perspectives.