What a mess our country is in! Politicians stir up their bases by talking about their opponents with scorn, stirring up outrage against them. Political commentators talk about Americans who hold different beliefs as if they were bad or stupid at the least, and at the worst, as evil, a terrible threat to our nation, even in league with the Devil.

But the truth is that conservatives and liberals are equally good people. We all love our children the same and we all want what’s best for our country. We just have different beliefs.

Normally, both sides see important truths, not opposite positions, but truths that balance each other. For example, people who have lost their jobs often need help, and people should work and be responsible for themselves. Help should lead to reemployment. Both ideas are important.

So why have we become so polarized?

Facebook and other social media feed us inflammatory posts that agree with our political opinions, and they send us fake news, as well as legitimate news. Making us outraged keeps us online with them.

We are instinctively loyal, and so we believe our own leaders whether they tell us truths or fake news. And when they describe others as sub-human, we think with our outrage, not with our intellects.

Lastly, confirmation bias: We all look for information that confirms what we already believe, and we discount information that supports the other side.

There is an antidote to all this. Just notice when anyone says that one group of Americans is all bad. That speaker has lost his/her way, and you might be hearing fake news. We all want our nation to prosper. Remember Jesus’s message: Love everyone. And remember that “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”

Richard Thomas

Waterville

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