Commentary: Respect of opinions needed to heal U.S. political divide


Americans must respect one another’s differing opinions in order to move past the political divide between generations, as well as Republicans and Democrats.

The political divisiveness in modern America has no signs of resolving any time soon, and in many ways it is caused by a stark contrast in culture.

The U.S. is like a quilt, where many cultures and ways of life are sewn together to create something larger. Not all of the squares of the quilt will look the same and sometimes they can clash with other squares. Different patterns and colors are not always visually appealing next to each other and they can create an aesthetically frustrating appearance. 

Similarly, there are groups of people in the country that clash with other groups. Their worldview, or pattern, disagrees and conflicts with the worldview, or pattern, of other people. 

This is an obvious observation and does not really say anything new; people are different, people disagree with each other and that is the nature of the world. The problem is that people stop there. 

They do not try to understand why other people have different opinions, beliefs and attitudes than they do. People’s worldviews are judged as right or wrong, and not as simply different. 

The needs and concerns of liberals in an urban population can be vastly different than those of rural America.

The Shippensburg area is a great representation of the cultural contrast throughout the country. Shippensburg University can be compared to a liberal urban center, while the town and surrounding communities are a snapshot of conservative rural America. 

Young college students are stereotypically more liberal and progressive, and often believe government support for social programs, healthcare and higher education is a necessity. Older farmers and trade workers relied on a steady job, not higher education, as the key to their success. 

Depending on which politician is in office, especially in the White House, some people may feel neglected and even abandoned by their own country. This is what happened to rural America when Barack Obama was president.  When Donald Trump came along and promised a renewed America of decent, good-paying jobs, rural Americans felt somebody was finally paying attention to them.

The fact is, many rural communities have been on their deathbed for years. The Atlantic reported that tens of thousands of people leave rural communities every year as cities attract younger people for jobs. Not only are people leaving the countryside, but the people still there are often older. 

It should be no great mystery why these people feel left behind and ignored. The focus of the nation is on the young generation and urban populations. There is nothing wrong with supporting college students, or promoting progressive and liberal ideas. It is actually necessary for the nation to thrive. 

Republicans and Democrats do not promote what is best for the country — they promote what is best for specific squares on the quilt. People do not need to agree with the opinions of everyone else, but they do need to understand why they have the opinions that they do.

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