The Gustavian Weekly

Politics divide, love draws together - The Gustavian Weekly

By Alma Jorgenson - Opinion Editor | November 6, 2020 | Opinion

I spent my election night doing the most American thing that I could think of: working an extra hour on a family-run dairy farm. I spent the evening producing real food for real people. This is what the American Dream used to be. Get some land and figure out how to be independent, earn a living and care for a family. So much has changed, but there is something very special about rural America.
I have had exposure to a different kind of diversity through growing up in a rural area, . Most of the people in my county are of European descent. But other than that, the people in Big Stone Country are all so different. Growing up in a town of 453 people you really get to know everyone. I worked at the grocery store for a few years which helped me get to know all the different characters in our county. While getting to know the individuals more and more in my community, I found it so hard not to love them—love them for who they are, and not what they believe. Looking into this election I see so much hate. This broken two-party system feeds into a polarized idea that one side is good and the other side is evil. Being surrounded by people on campus who have very similar beliefs from me really helps to enforce that too.
When COVID-19 hit and we all had to go home, I found myself shocked at all the Trump flags that lined the highways where I grew up. I was shocked at how many people I knew who were openly supporting Trump. Being at Gustavus really closed my eyes to political views that aren’t always part of the liberal arts culture. Going home exposed me to political diversity that I just don’t get when I’m on the Hill. I think this political diversity is so important. It’s hard for me to feel hate toward people who have different political leanings because I know people who have very different political beliefs, and I love those people.
Globalization and the internet have made our world so much bigger; a consequence of a bigger world is that we are able to create little bubbles that we can live in — Bubbles are often places where only people who share our beliefs can reside. It’s only in limited situations that we have to interact with people who have different beliefs. In order to fix the broken political system in America, we need to think small. We have to pop those bubbles and open our minds to the ideas of those around us—not necessarily taking on those ideas as our own, but instead working to understand and stop “othering” those with different political beliefs than us.
The past few weeks I’ve asked myself over and over, “Am I proud to be an American?” and honestly, I can’t even find an answer to that. One thing I am certain of is that I am proud to be from Minnesota, and I’m proud to be from Big Stone County, even though it lit up red like a fire truck on Tuesday night.
Red or blue does not equate to good or bad. Political beliefs aren’t the defining feature of most people. I believe the most radical thing that we can do is love– regardless of political belief– and live and let live. We all have a right to express our beliefs (something we should do), but with that right needs to come with a certain level of mutual respect. If we want our beliefs to be respected then we must find room to do the same. Get to know the actual person, not just the company line that they are hiding behind. Pushing to have real conversations with people of varying backgrounds is how we are going to build this country back up. Real change starts at the local level, and it doesn’t even have to be in the political sphere.
Talk to our neighbors; learn about their struggles and what’s important to them. Both sides think the other side is crazy; let’s take the time to lose this idea. Through radical love, we can make a real change in the world.One thing that we do have control over is respecting and caring about others. Let’s take that path.

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