A shockingly divisive election just took place. Before and after it, social media, and the news, has been packed with rancor, each ideology mocking, deriding and hating on the other. And that achieves what? Absolutely nothing. Bickering changes no one’s mind, persuades no one, leads no one to consider their own and others’ positions. Discussion is a dying art. Parroting of the sounds that make us comfortable is close to completely displacing prolonged, thoughtful, respectful discussion. You win no one to your point by calling them an idiot. You may, through discussion, bring them to see your point. They could, potentially, come to agree with you, or they may choose not to, based on their own reasoning of the situation.

Unless we are willing to discuss, I suggest we refrain from adding to the cacophony. If you choose to act politically, to actually take a place in the public eye on the stage of politics at any level, do so with gusto. Many of us are not so inclined, however, and take our perfectly valid position as relatively passive observers. There are places in the act where our voices should be heard, of course. We should communicate with our representatives, otherwise they don’t know how they’re performing in the eyes of the electorate. We should vote, otherwise we don’t have a legitimate right to engage politically with the elected and those who put them in their office.

Aside from these points where we interface with those “on the stage”, I see our primary, most meaningful political, and in truth social, action to be discussion with others “in the audience”. If I actually attended a play, slugging someone sitting next to me, or setting their car on fire, because they prefer one actor’s performance over another’s only incites mayhem. Discussion, on the other hand, could lead each side to see the other’s view. It could be that one side or the other is  mis- or under-informed. It may be that they haven’t carried some line of argument to its ultimate conclusion and so have been arguing from a logically flawed or incomplete position. Or they may simply have different values, those being fundamental beliefs that very likely won’t be swayed by any device of exchange, whether it be a swung fist, a slung insult, or a carefully reasoned exposition. If we are to be civil, we must recognize that fact, accept the “agree to disagree” position, and see where we can move on from there.

Approximately 129,000,000 people voted in the presidential election. The results were roughly split about 50/50. That friend of yours who didn’t vote the same way you did represents around 1/65,000,000 of “the problem”. Millions of voters provide a statistically meaningful impact, obviously. Several people among your friends does not. Civil discussion begets discussion and lifts both parties up to a better understanding, even if agreement isn’t reached. Fighting and squabbling only hurts and isolates.

We must stop shouting at each other and start talking with each other.