Healing Our Post-Election Polarization

November 9, 2012 by Shelly

talking-headsThe tenor of the national election campaigns was bitter, reflecting the passionate feelings which separated and still separate one camp from the other. In his acceptance speech, the President said something that deeply resonated with me. He affirmed that the divisions were passionate and stubborn because those on all sides truly cared for the welfare of this country. There was a point of identity at the very root of deeply felt convictions.

In recognizing that shared point of departure, the President pointed to a pathway to civility and compassion. If we realize that strongly expressed opposing views often stem from the identical place, we have a foundation for mutual respect. Perhaps we would be more inclined to respect the other, to listen carefully to his/her views, and even to open ourselves to rethinking.

Rav Abraham Yitzchok Kook of the last century (p. 332 in the book) teaches that real peace encompasses all perspectives, each of which has its place. We are wiser when all sides are aired and even encouraged to be spoken. Talmudic thinking relishes multiple points of view, even those of minorities which are not accepted as halacha. No one is wise enough to express the complete truth. We need each other.

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