By Siri Corson
The car seemed to shake as my friends enthusiastically screamed the bridge of the song “Cruel Summer.” My teeth were clenched under my smile as I wondered how many more “Swiftie” songs I would be subjected to on the 45-minute car ride to Decorah. At some point we turned the music down to discuss topics we held dear to our hearts like guns, political candidates, laws and worst of all… views on the dreaded “other side.” After talking, we all realized we had the same fundamental morals with added flares that we call opinions. Despite our “party,” we were all really in the same boat. The problem was, these subjects seemed daunting to discuss in the first place – especially because we fear a hostile response or a troubling conversation. I think we fear discussion because we were always taught to divide over our opinions rather than multiply our own understanding.
These days, we often hear the phrase “Love all humans,” but we hypocritically hold a grudge to the opposing party. This is a very hard habit to break; after all, it is programmed into us. No matter where you turn, all you see is division because we label ourselves as opposite. Take the common terminology of Red vs. Blue, Left vs. Right, and Conservatives vs. Liberals as an example of how we push ourselves further and further from each other each and every day. Even the words we use like “other side” or “different party” infer that we are not on the same side. There should never have to be an opposite side.
Opposite – an overused word used incorrectly. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find someone who is the exact opposite of you; I still haven’t. Splitting our country in half is insane. Those who are most passionate about their stance are automatically isolated from the entire other half of our nation based on something as miniscule as their position on life. It’s a tragedy that mass shunning is considered commonplace, and we live segregated by our party every day. Number wise, that’s 150 MILLION people with whom you’ve lost the potential to culminate a relationship. One hundred fifty million people to get defensive around. One hundred fifty million people who you may never see the true side of or come to understand. And one hundred fifty million experiences are lost because we label ourselves as “different.”
In fact, giving ourselves a label in the first place does more harm than good. It actually limits us or rather sections us off. Think of how many different personalities there are in a single classroom alone. It’s unrealistic to think that even 10 of us will think exactly the same. Now imagine this on a large scale. Three hundred million people with 300 million daily thoughts are not corralled into hundreds of parties, dozens of parties, not even 10; the majority are separated into two. All of two. Even existing under a label means you are thought of as the most extreme side of your beliefs. If you say you have Republican beliefs, and you are thought of as inhumane, stubborn and closed-minded because of the agenda pushed by the opposite side. Likewise, if you agree that you may be liberalistic, you will be called a snowflake with no backbone or scientific basis. You just can’t win when half of a country is aimed against you from the very beginning.
If we continue to allow our home to be divided as viciously as it is today, we will run ourselves into the ground with hatred. We won’t accomplish anything if we can never see eye to eye. JFK said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer,” yet here we are, unnecessarily disagreeing with the other side simply to be contrary over the smallest issues. This country was bought with blood, but we are about to throw it all away over pointed words. America is our home, and if the family within a home begins to fight, it’s no longer a home, it is just another house. America, where we are today, this house divided will not stand.
Siri Corson is a student at Fillmore Central High School. She is one of 13 area students participating in the Journal Writing Project, now in its 25th year.
By Siri Corson