From the Editor
April 10, 2017
These past few months, I have seen my family, friends and teachers become more politically active than ever before. It has become unusual to pass through a single school day without overhearing a political conversation or learning of someone’s plans to protest against the Trump administration the coming weekend.
This level of activism is something I have not witnessed before and it is both exciting and uplifting to know that so many people care deeply about their country. However, living in Clayton, most of the activism I have seen is directed towards resisting the policies of the Trump administration.
While it is necessary for the success of democracy to resist changes you disagree with, it is also essential to attempt to find common ground with the people who represent ideas you protest. Only then can greater understanding be reached and compromise can become feasible.
Finding common ground can be difficult in our polarized political climate, especially when individuals feel targeted by opposing interests. Thus, it is imperative to recognize that all political parties and interest groups are made up individual people that, on a personal level, largely have the same wants and needs as each other. Though their different perspectives may cause them to disagree on specific policies, nearly all people want safety and economic security for themselves and their loved ones.
I believe that the vast majority of people are truly good and want what’s best for themselves and their country. Keeping this in mind, it becomes far more difficult to dismiss certain political beliefs or make generalizations about the people who hold them.
To some extent, we all make political decisions based out of self-interest, influenced by our experiences and backgrounds. By recognizing that all political organizations are made up of individuals with very real stories and desires that shape their perspectives, we gain a sort of common interest, no matter how wildly different our political beliefs may be. We must make an effort to learn the stories of those we disagree with in order to better respect their opinions and understand why they hold them.
Only once a basic level of respect and understanding for the individual is achieved can there be civil and productive discussion that addresses issues fairly among all groups.
Living in Clayton, it is easy to surround yourself with like-minded people. This can provide a very limited perspective which, given the anxiety some people feel towards the Trump administration, may be quite dismaying. While protest and resistance are tenants of democracy, it is perhaps of greater importance to recognize the humanity of opposing groups and to search for common ground.
So by all means, protest, make your voices heard. But take some time to try and understand the people behind the beliefs and policies you’re protesting. Learn their stories.