As a Contentious Society, We Need to Find Common Ground


Catherine Hurwitz

Political viewpoints are like trees: deciduous for democrats and liberals, and coniferous for conservatives and republicans. Deciduous trees change with the seasons, and democrats want to improve society with world’s current era. They shed their orange leaves every fall, remain bare in the winter and grow green leaves in the spring. Whereas, coniferous trees stay green all year long, and they can be a symbol of tradition. Either way, trees provide us oxygen, and they are symbols for nature. We should not favor one type, but we should love all types of trees—the changing and the evergreen—and, correspondingly, listen to all different types of opinions.

Ever since I can remember, I have been surrounded by family and friends who are on different political sides, and I have therefore been stuck in the middle of both sides. I am a very independent thinker, believing in both societal improvement and tradition. I believe in pacifism and never starting a fight; I believe in saving every one of my pennies in my bank account. In public, I am afraid to speak my political opinion, and in general, I am terrified to conform to one side.

With the recent election on Nov. 6, many disagreements arose over candidates and ballot questions. Because of the massive empires of the Republican and Democratic parties, independents are belittled in elections. In a perfect world, we would get rid of the two-party system. A group of candidates should be able to run for office without labels, and people should vote based on the candidates’ values as a human being. Some people may say that the two-party system allows people to sort out common beliefs into two groups in order to have a fair competition. Yes, competitions are important in a capitalist country. However, getting rid of the two-party system would force people to research candidates instead of blindly voting for one party based on what people around them believed in growing up.

The two-party system does not encourage friendly competition. It encourages hate—the kind of hate that makes people like me afraid to speak my opinions in public. There are sides from both parties with which I agree, but when I hear brutal arguing between the parties, I am automatically turned away.

Arguments and extreme judgement are are circulating around the media, and have been for years. The Tucker Carlson show on Fox features the conservative Carlson who speaks about a trending issue with a salient liberal. It is clear that Carlson is a good listener. It is just that he listens for the wrong reasons. Instead of finding a way that he agrees with the other person to gain a new perspective, Carlson listens for their faults and blatantly calls them out. The two opposing sides interrupt each other and raise their voices. Whenever I see this type of arguing, I am alway reminded by Mark Twain famous quote: “never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” The political turbulence does not make one side look better than the other. Ironically, it makes both sides look like the fools, because nobody ever wins an argument.

On the opposite side of contentious media, Jubilee Media produces a series called “Middle Ground” on YouTube. Jubilee makes human-centric videos that challenge conventional thinking, bridge people together and inspire love. “Middle Ground” brings a group of people from opposing sides together to have a group discussion. Some groups are political, like immigrants and Trump supporters, pro-gun and anti-gun and pro-choice and pro-life. Other shows have other types like meat eaters and vegans, Millenials and Baby Boomers and graduates and dropouts. The two opposing sides come into the room together without knowing who is on each side. They are then broken up into their groups on either end of the room and are given a statement. If they agree with the statement, they join together in the middle of the room to discuss. More often than not, members of opposing sides mutually agree with each other and have a discussion based on what they have in common and if there are possible solutions.

As a society, we need to reflect the climate of “Middle Ground” rather than talk shows like the Tucker Carlson show. For the most part, people are opinionated in one way because that is what society tells them to do. Putting labels on people—that do not even need to be political—just divides our world in times that we need to come together to find solutions. Especially in today’s world where social media drives everyday lives, people say their opinions without acknowledging other people’s feelings in the process. Our world is more than just black and white, right and wrong. There is a gray area reserved for discussion. If we can focus on what we agree and listen respectfully to the other side, we can peacefully solve problems and live in unity.

We are all trees. Some of us are deciduous trees who love to change with our time. Some of us are coniferous trees who stay the same no matter the climate. Others of us are neither, and we are trying to find our place in the world. No matter what type of tree we are, no matter the weather or the season, we all have roots buried in the soil, entwined over other roots, that all grow out of the same common ground.