Tolerance is Critical to Functioning as a Society



Photo By Getty Images/iStockphoto

Despite the political divisiveness, Americans need to remember to listen to each other and stick together. Contrasting ideologies can often cause polarization and harmful behavior towards those who don’t share your point of view. Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

By Amira Boutros and Zoejane Ostebo

During this past year, there has been a massive political divergence between Americans. As we continue to go through the struggles of the pandemic and its effects on the economy, we were also in one of the most controversial presidential elections in modern day history.

Many of the social media platforms that political campaigners are using to spread their message are filled with younger generations. We are constantly being flooded with political messages and propaganda, forced to choose a side before we even understand the full picture. Do we even get a chance to form our own opinion?

As high schoolers begin to pay attention to politics, there are many who swing towards leftist ideals. They’ve expressed their distrust and dislike of our president, encouraging those who can vote to ‘settle for Biden’. With the current state of our government, some are worried that violence will be incited as the new president is announced. One of these students is a sophomore concerned over the results of the election.

“No matter who wins, there will be a lot of backlash and I fear for the safety of others,” they said. “It seems as if there’s no way to win.”

Besides the fear of the impending election, this sophomore has chosen to be a part of the democratic party for different reasons than just our current president. They’ve found that the acceptance that some liberal politicians give are more appealing than those of the Republican party.

“It’s important for our president to fight for the rights of everyone,” they said. “Women, people of color, LGBTQIA, and transgender people deserve the rights that have been denied to them for decades.”

After the rise of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement this summer, this student observed that some supporters of the Republican party fought against the movement. It claimed that systematic racism did not exist, police brutality wasn’t a problem, and the protests were violent. President Trump backed these statements and brought the national guard into states with the protests. This student did not agree with these claims and actions, believing that the BLM movement was peaceful and that the president was trying to suppress their voices.

“I don’t like how he views people who aren’t white cis men,” they said. “It’s destructive to have someone like him in power, influencing others to think that his behavior is okay.”

But not every teenager has the same beliefs. Other students stand with their conservative views and speak out on their fear of discussing with their peers. After the four years of backlash that Trump supporters and the Republican party received, these students prefer to keep quiet to avoid arguments or hate from others. One of these students has come forward to speak their opinion on the massive blue voter swing that happened this year.

“The majority of Americans are democrats and they don’t even know why,” they said, “I was talking to some of my friends who are liberals and they can’t tell me one thing about what it actually means to be liberal.”

These conservative students never speak out about their political views in fear they will be bashed and labeled as “racist”, “heartless, etc. Some Republican teens explain their conservative opinions but don’t agree with President Trump’s views on important topics such as Black Lives Matter.

“Of course BLM is an important topic. I support it but I don’t agree with going around looting small businesses and destroying the community, especially in black communities. That’s not going to help with anything,” they said. “I don’t like how people are using the BLM mission as an excuse to steal stuff. It’s unacceptable and disrespectful, and honestly no one will take BLM seriously if people continue to do that.”

Another destructive issue that society continues to face is labeling- the idea that we can sort people into boxes is damaging to the unity that America was built upon. A republican student explained how labeling on both sides should be prohibited, no matter political view, everyone should respect each other and no one should ever feel threatened about their beliefs.

“How is it fair for liberals to express themselves and their political views, but when I do, I get branded?” they said. “I get called a racist and [much] uglier names that I don’t think I can repeat.”

Regardless of our political beliefs, we as Americans have to put our faith in democracy. We can’t let others decide what we believe in, we must do our own research and form our own opinions. But suppressing other’s voices to magnify our own can lead us down a divided, violent path. We must keep in mind that if someone has a different belief than us, we still respect them.

“Everyone just needs to form their own opinion, everyone needs to be seen as equal,” a republican student said.

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