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Now What? How Do We Mend Fences as a Nation?

UPDATED April 25, 2019 12:01 pm .


Francis Cordor
April 25, 2019 12:01 pm

It’s been a busy few days as our nation simultaneously welcomed and jeered a new president. After a contentious election season, Mr. Trump is now President Trump (though we’ve all heard plenty of voices proclaiming, “Not my president!”)

Friday’s inauguration had its share of pageantry and protest. Black Lives Matter protestors managed to shut down an inauguration checkpoint. Meanwhile, reports of rioting came in all day long. Windows were smashed, vehicles set on fire, streets blocked, rocks and bottles hurled, and tear gas deployed.

People are clearly angry.

CBS News is reporting that most of the 230 protesters arrested Friday will face felony rioting charges, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. “Welcome to Trump’s America” Salon.com’s headline on this same story reads. The Salon article goes on to say:

“Demonstrators warn that the crackdown signals a new wave of repression against the protesters, whose mass mobilization was met with riot police violence, National Guard and Department of Homeland Security deployments, heavy surveillance and law enforcement snipers positioned on rooftops.”

Inauguration Day was followed by Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. Women flocked to similar events across the country, many of them wearing pink hats to signal their discontent.

Though largely peaceful, the march revealed that even the women’s movement is deeply divided right now. Pro-life women were not welcome. Death threats were reportedly made on Twitter against Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood clinic director and founder of pro-life organization And Then There Were None.

Women are clearly angry, too, as are many Hispanics and the previously uninsured. Meanwhile, some Trump supporters are still angry, even though their anger got him elected in the first place, in a phenomenon that’s been called

“sore winner’s syndrome.”

To be fair, they don’t like being called racists or mocked for their religious beliefs, both of which have happened frequently throughout the election. It seems everyone is angry right now, no matter which candidate they supported.

Many of us breathed a sigh of relief once the election ended — if only to get a break from the vitriol that appeared constantly on our Facebook newsfeeds from friends from both sides. That divisiveness continues to simmer steadily.

Of course, there will always be opposing views — especially in a free country where everyone has the freedoms we enjoy: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly to name just a few.

These freedoms are what we need to remember. We don’t have to agree with our co-workers, neighbors, friends, or even our family members, but we should respect their rights to believe otherwise — and expect them to do the same for us.

In order to mend fences with those who have opposing viewpoints, one option is to agree to disagree. This usually means agreeing not to discuss the topic any further; however, to really mend the fence, it also means agreeing to respect one another’s opinions without judgment, without hatred.

Another approach is to keep an open mind. While it’s tempting to cut those with whom you disagree out of your life, it’s not always practical. Plus, exposing yourself to different points of view can give you a deeper understanding of the human experience. Instead of avoiding one another, find common ground. Instead of discounting opinions because they’re different from yours, listen with an open mind. You may find you have more in common than you realized.

Finally, take a step back. Before reacting, before posting an inflammatory comment, before forwarding a hateful meme, take a time out. Count to twenty and think of the other individual as a person and not as an opponent. This will temper your own anger and be less likely to fan the flames.

These steps might not heal the nation, but they’ll help to heal our personal relationships with others.

 

Featured Photo: Courtesy of honey(http://honey.co.uk/)








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