We are living in an age of ignorance and it took us decades to arrive at this point. How did we go from civil and enlightened discourse to grabbing at sound bites in mainstream media or social media, declaring it truth, and demanding others to agree in the most uncivil way possible in one generation?
Simply, we allowed and continue to allow ourselves to be distracted by trivia. Trivia that we assign meaning to and that is where we stop. We do not go beyond the surface or the scrolling news feeds; we refuse to consider another point of view.
It is these distractions, deployed with alarming skill by the political class, that stop us from paying attention to what really matters. Further, we organize ourselves into political tribes—tribes that will chuck you off the island if you have the audacity to consider another opinion or different perspective.
“Political tribalism makes us reject evidence that casts our tribe in bad light…overwhelming evidence can be dismissed as fake news manufactured by the conspiracy.” How can each of us begin the long process of steering our national discourse toward civility? Surprisingly, it only takes a few simple steps. We must start asking each other questions and listen to the answers, slow down and calm down, and when asking questions, we must imagine that we may be wrong.
We all come to any debate, national or otherwise, with personal vulnerabilities and misinformation; therefore, we all need to start being gentle with one another if we are to move forward as a nation.