If there’s one thing I see too much of in this world, it’s tribalism. So much of the way our society has been programmed is in regards to categorizing people into allies or enemies. Sports and politics are two very easy and simple examples, but the topic obviously goes far deeper than that.
With sports, it’s fine. You cheer your own team on and are proud to be a fan when they win, and you get irrationally (perhaps playfully mad) when they lose to a team you hate. All well and good there. That’s not what the problem is.
The problem arises when people start identifying and supporting their group simply because of the name attached with it, rather than the ideas surrounding it. This isn’t an issue where sports are concerned, but I see the biggest offender of this is everything surrounding politics.
America has a two-party system. That’s all well and good (well, actually, I’d argue that it isn’t — at all — but that’s another story), but so much of the policies surrounding people and actions of our nation in the last several decades has been about “Democrats vs. Republicans”. Democrats can’t do anything right when they’re in office, and Republicans only screw it up more when they take the lead. So much negativity. Screw Obama and his administration. Trump is nothing but a racist idiot!
Yeah, yeah, sure, everyone sucks. But America’s politics has just become a giant grotesque cluster of ad hominem fallacies. We shouldn’t hate people just because they’re liberal, or conservative, or whatever stance they take on any topic. Nobody can ever have any healthy debates because two people on the same team will just talk about how awful the other side is, and when two sides talk to each other everything stops being about the topic and turns into insults. Healthy debate stops once the argument is not about the facts surrounding the topic. (This isn’t to say that feelings have no place, but feelings should, on principle, be supported by facts.)
Another huge issue is that we separate ourselves into two groups — liberal and conservative — and we characterize those groups by the loudest ones on the spectrum. The fact is, most of us lie moderately in the middle, and only lean one side or another. If I say I’m liberal, for instance, you might immediately conclude that I’m pro-choice, pro-immigration, pro-gun control, etc. I may or may not be any of these, but the problem is that assumption. Somebody can be liberal and be pro-life, or anything else, because so many topics are so complex that you can’t put a blanket statement over everything and separate them into one of two groups.
Now, pretending that American politics isn’t basically just a business that indulges itself rather than a government whose priority is its people, how do we fix this? Well, it needs to start with us. The media, the every day people, everyone. We would need to start a talk about the issues and stop identifying ourselves as “one or the other”. We all need to be open, often accepting, of new and previously contradicting information.
No more name calling. No more categorization as ‘friend or foe’. Just a healthy talk about what should and should not be done. Ideally, after a debate like this, you and the other person should agree based on the facts each have presented.
Obviously, this is never going to happen. But this is how we would start, if this change could happen.