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FILE— If we are fighting each other— people who are neighbors and friends— how can we expect to stand together as one united country? Our strength lies within each other.

The foundation of America was built upon hard work, patience, compromise and a willingness to listen. As obvious as these things might seem, I’m afraid we are starting to lose sight of them.

With all the political uproar surrounding the new U.S. presidency, I’ve noticed that political reports of all kinds tend to evoke negative feelings. I believe these negative emotions stem from one fundamental problem — a lack of love.

My heart aches at this realization. I have political views of my own, of course. However, I have been careful not to let my political stance justify raising my voice at someone, turning away from a friend or creating a hateful post online.

Throughout social media, arguing and finger-pointing come from both political parties. In our passionate feelings about where we stand on government policies, we have forgotten there was once a time when we didn’t treat each other differently because of politics.

Let’s rewind the clock to when we were children and recall the simplicity of our relationships. They were likely based on who we had fun doing activities with, and who was kind to us. In no way did they revolve around one’s support for a specific political party. Granted, this was when we understood very little about politics. Now fast-forward to today, where we have greater depth of knowledge on political issues. The increase in our political knowledge, and the judging we think it justifies, have made us numb to a fundamental truth: Each one of us is precious. We need to value the people around us and treat them with consideration and kindness. This will not only improve our own lives, but also the lives of the next generation.

America’s children do not know there is often a political agenda that influences how we treat others. They cannot fully comprehend our politics. But they are extremely aware of what the adults are doing. They constantly watch how we behave toward one another and how we speak to each other. They will learn from us, for better or worse, whether we choose to accept this responsibility.

We cannot let the message they receive from us be one of narrow-mindedness, selfishness or hatred. We do not want them to value individual success at the expense of the nation’s success. We have a duty to our country, the next generation and those we cherish to do better.

If we are fighting each other — people who are neighbors and friends — how can we expect to stand together as one united country? Our strength lies within each other. We need to be open-minded and open-hearted, and we should be able to feel safe in speaking out about what is important to us.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers, or perish together as fools.” We are all fools if we are convinced our political views are the only “correct” ways to think. We are even bigger fools if we are willing to tear each other down for the sake of politics. Our country cannot afford to adopt these attitudes as the “norm.”

Who we are is who we choose to be. Something we can do right now to reshape who we are becoming as Americans is to bring back our humanity. Let us remember there is community underlying our politics, and we can show the world, and our children, that love, compassion and freedom are the defining characteristics of the American people.

Michelle Moench is a college student at BYU-Idaho. She is majoring in professional writing with a minor in biology. She is from Falls Church, Virginia.