Thursday, February 23, 2012

Listen to be an active member of society

By Paula McFadden, Opinion Columnist

I had a friend growing up who refused to trick-or-treat at a neighbor’s house because there was a John Kerry campaign poster in the window.

This way of thinking was not something she was born with. Her parents taught her to refuse to interact with others based on the possibility of differing beliefs.

The sad truth is this is not an isolated case. There are many grown adults today who are unable to put aside their political ideologies in order to learn and grow as human beings.

During McCain and Palin’s campaign, another friend said she would move to Canada if they were elected.

She never had to move, but her unwillingness was similar to my childhood friend. Her only solution was to leave when she did not agree.

Freedom of speech allows people with differing views to speak without the threat of persecution, but American society has reverted.

Politicians refuse to engage with certain news organization on the basis of differing political ties.

Sarah Palin would only communicate with Fox News during the presidential campaign in 2008, and President Obama praised MSNBC for its good reporting.

The greatest danger of American democracy’s structure is the inability of political parties to agree on or even discuss certain issues.

The polarization has become so severe that the government has nearly shut down at both the state and national levels.

The most recent example involves Congress’ failure to come to an agreement on the budget crisis, which ended with a temporary solution.

Without discourse, each political party becomes embedded in an us-versus-them mentality in which nothing can be accomplished.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall put it well when he said, “To listen well is as powerful a means of communication and influence as to talk well.”

Sending adults back to kindergarten to learn some basic skills may be what America needs in order to fix our growing issues.

Paula McFadden is a junior at Pacific Lutheran University pursuing a degree in English with an emphasis in writing and minors in communication and publishing and printing arts. She lives on-campus but calls Lakewood, Wash., home.