From The Center
The good news: I've found that we all have common ground. Fear.
Every day, I appreciate how much heavier the burden of fear is for every one of us.
Fear fuels anger, which drives the all-too-common vitriolic communication that gets lobbed across the political courts.
Fear closes our ability to reason and understand each other. We make mistakes when we’re scared. We release stressful chemicals. Our heart rates increase. We get sweaty. We start thinking less about the future and more about survival. Fight or flight. We unwillingly withdraw.
If we can at least begin to acknowledge our shared fear, we can begin to carry the shared weight.
Even now that it seems more difficult than ever, we need to listen to people we disagree with to understand their points of view. And consider that they're as afraid as you are.
Some people who are called selfish for their decision on a vaccine are afraid of getting sick. Others who are vaccinated are afraid of going outside.
We cannot rationalize with fear.
We can listen to understand without judgment. We can question our assumptions. We can assume we’re wrong in order to understand more. We can act in spite of fear.
Refusing to listen to each other is going to keep us in a state of confusion. We won't get out of this until we acknowledge that most of us really want things to get better. We have different ideas on how to do that, but it's not as simple as slapping blame and dehumanizing labels on their identities, political or otherwise.
Fear is an odd unifier. And we differ in how we respond to it. But by acknowledging it in each other, we can reclaim our shared humanity again.
Listen to all of the science.
Listen to each other.
Listen to your loved ones and support them.
Listen to your ideological enemies and learn from them. It’s especially important to understand what they’re paying attention to, and what they want. It’s probably a little different than you think.
We have a lot to learn. And it’s more complicated than any news article or broadcast could ever say.
April Gardner is a futurist who has written and edited for Vox Media and NBC News. An Emmy Award-winning communications strategist, she graduated from Harvard University and Boston University. She has a Center bias.
This piece was reviewed by Julie Mastrine, Director of Marketing and Media Bias Ratings. She has a Lean Right bias.