iOS app Android app

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Ethan Marcus

GET UPDATES FROM Ethan Marcus
 

Polarization: Why It's Destroying Our America, Our World, and Our Lives

Posted: 11/28/11 05:19 PM ET

Polarization in any environment is never a good thing; people are not willing to compromise, listen, or even speak to other people who may differ in opinion. Unfortunately, this is what has happened to our world and our country, especially in its policies and politics.

One of the most recent and vivid examples of polarization in our society is Congress.

For the past several years, our national legislature has refused to agree on anything. Even our nation's motto, "In God We Trust" -- which has been around for over fifty years -- narrowly passed the House and Senate earlier this month. If Congress can barely agree on what our national slogan is, how can they possibly agree on anything else?

So where did the willingness to compromise and work together for the greater good go? Why has it become nearly impossible for our system of government to even function anymore? The answer involves both our representatives and us.

Although stupidity and partisanship are major factors in this governmental roadblock, we as Americans are at fault as well.

Our population itself has become more polarized than ever. This has been caused by two major aspects, one of them being "clustering."

We have become a self-induced apartheid population; we have literally congregated with "like-minded" people across the country. Throughout the nation, people usually live in areas where their neighbors and friends are "like-minded."

When we as Americans only talk to people with the same views, it reinforces them, making us believe that they are the only views out there and are therefore always right. This creates a vacuum in debate and discussion, killing the idea of compromise and destroying the belief in negotiation.

This in turn causes the second aspect of polarization that our national population has induced, "opposition to listening."

When people become strongly rooted in their own conviction, they are not willing to even listen to the beliefs of others. This is what destroys our lives; the unwillingness to listen, to have a simple discussion, to talk. How can we function as a society if we can't even talk to each other?

This lack of dialogue divides the population and has led to where we are now; the division in Congress. People must realize that this national division is self-induced. Our representatives and senators are not the only ones at fault; do not forget that we were the ones who voted for a government divided, not united.

Even looking at our world community, there is no longer a moderate crowd. Take the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example. There are terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah who do not believe in compromise and would rather blow Israel off the map. There are also the Israeli settlement populations and their unwillingness to negotiate with both their own government and the Palestinians.

Our world has become a polarized world; our America has become a polarized America; our lives have become polarized lives; can we ever compromise and bring about positive change again?

The simple answer is yes.

We need to listen again. We need to unblock our ears. We need to be willing and able to hear the opinion of others no matter what they believe in. Without dialogue, without communication, nothing can get done or accomplished. That's what's going on in Congress, that's what's going on in the country.

I am a realist. I know this will be hard, but America has faced struggles that have been far more challenging than where we are now. The simple fact is that by listening to each other, we will be willing to compromise and elect officials who will be willing to do the same.

This will get us out of our troubles; this will take the dark clouds of partisanship away; this will bring compromise back to America, the world, and our lives.