The current federal political disagreements are a reflection of the inability and unwillingness of each side to hear and acknowledge the concerns of the other.
Of course, being political opponents, they need not agree with each other - but it is important to genuinely listen to what an opponent's issues are and to see what and how to respond to those. Often in Washington, DC and throughout our nation one side can not even consider the facts and points raised by opponents. At times, even human civility seems to have vanished among those in Congress and the Senate.
Instead, we have Democrats and Republicans repeating their own positions ad nauseam. These positions are often the concerns and needs of a small segment of the population, the primary points which they want to focus on, while disregarding the often legitimate issues and segments of the population which they denigrate or do not identify with.
Truly it is hard to listen to those we disagree with, to opponents, whether personally, socially, politically or in many other areas. And we can see how we might do something similar in getting news and information, ideas and positions, given our tendency to attend only to media whose ideological positions we are predisposed to agree with. A way to explore this might be the following:
For a day or a week, read or listen to a form of media that is ideologically different from the one you usually use. Below are just a few examples of pairs and alternatives (or create your own alternatives).
www.nytimes.com or www.wsj.com
www.npr.org or http://www.foxnews.com/
msnbc tv or fox tv
www.rushlimbaugh.com/ or www.democracynow.org/
for middles east news: www.timesofisrael.com or www.aljazeera.com
www.newrepublic.com or www.nationalreview.com
www.atlantic.com or www.drudgereport.com
Notice your reactions to listening to/reading and considering the facts and points raised.
Notice how hard it is to read, listen or watch the media whose ideological positions differ from your own.
What do you do when reactions arise?
What is skillful and appropriate practice with this?
What does it take for you to listen, without abusing others, not elevating yourself and putting down others?
What is being present, experiencing? How can we support this?
Always our life is being just this moment, responding compassionately.
(c) 2013 Elihu Genmyo Smith