There is endless conflict in our world. Political power plays, divergent economic philosophies, religious strife and related violence are as old as civilization and abundant as ever. What humanity needs is for calm, productive dialogue to prevail and more people to seek to bridge gaps, not widen them. These things don't come easily. For me, as for anyone I think, it is easier to give in to natural human tendencies to fear unfamiliar people, disdain those whose ideas I disagree with, stereotype other groups, blame others' ideologies for "this country's problems," and seek out ideological opponents' personal, intimate weaknesses in an effort to invalidate their official stances and silence their positions. Choosing to rise above the fear and anger of living to allow others their voice, value differences, celebrate commonalities, and appreciate our society's political process - gridlock, compromise, messiness, occasional madness and all - requires a constant and deliberate effort. Learning to create a fair and loving atmosphere for the discussion of opposing ideas is not a skill that can be attained at some point in life and then checked off of one's existential to-do list. Rather, the realization of these values and traits takes a lifetime to develop and hone and strengthen and maintain - it is a work in progress, like I am - but what could be more worthy of my striving?
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