My name is Jack Van Kirk, and I’m writing this to express my disgust at the ideological mind-prisons and false dichotomies in American politics these days. I’m sick and tired of the wingnuts on both sides of the aisle. That’s why I appaud Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the head of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, for inviting both Obama and Romney to the Al Smith Banquet and giving a closing blessing at both parties’ national conventions (and I say that as a devout Catholic and a registered Republican). The Catholic Church and the Democratic platform stand in opposition, but at least the cardinal was at least willing to associate with those whom he disagrees politically.
As Rick Warren put it, ” our culture has accepted two huge lies. One is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they say or do. Both are false; you don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” The problem today is that we all have our convictions, but we won’t even talk to people who don’t share them. We label them bigots, gays, Bible-bangers, godless commies, corporate big-wigs, whatever. If we meet someone who disagrees, we don’t ask them politely why they disagree. Instead, we rage-quit and go back to our blogs, or turn on Bill Maher or Rush Limbaugh to further convince ourselves that the other guys are a bunch of morons (admit it, we all struggle with this).
I’m almost tempted to say stay out of politics altogether until people decide to grow up and be civil. But, alas, I can’t, because civil discourse begins with us. We as college students, regardless of your political, economic, or religious background, need to stop using emotionally-charged rhetoric and come to at least understand each other.
-Jack Van Kirk