The escalation of political tension on a national level has trickled down to affect people’s relationships.
In spite of all that has happened between 2020 and the start of 2021, it has brought to light many of the issues that have been left in the dark. This time has given individuals a voice that has frequently been used to address the matter of opposing political views.
We are bombarded by contrasting outlooks that span the spectrum of politics and these polarized perspectives can take a toll, especially if they belong to the ones we love.
As individuals with strong senses of political direction, we are prone to adhering to our perspectives. Mrs. Raquel Nelson, a teacher at Thomas Edison High School, shared that her family and friends have similar political views as her with the exception of her mother.
“We have gotten into some debates at times. Citing facts and examples of my perspective is my go-to move,” she said.
Mrs. Nelson restated that even though the political views of her mother get frustrating at times, it does not interfere with the relationship they have. The difference in views does not cause a rift, but it does lead to possible disputes.
Not only do these political perspectives affect teachers, but they affect many students in our school. Halima Azimulla, a senior at Thomas Edison High School, communicated how her family’s political views create strain.
“I agree with some of the aspects in which they share, however, growing up in a West Indian household, traditions and beliefs are brought upon us and enforced,” she said.
She continued by telling that her views are seen as “irrational” because of her young-adult-point- of-view versus her family who possessed a more traditional-point-of-view. Even though these factors have caused friction and rifts in some of the relationships between her and her family members, she continues to speak up on her perspective.
“Due to my different beliefs, it has often led to arguments because my voice and opinion are different and breaks views that were carried on from generations. Although some listened to what I have to say, others did not and hence arguments continued,” she said.
Also having experience first hand with different political views, Kacay Ramkissoon, a junior at Thomas A. Edison High School, shared the negative and positive effects it caused in her relationships.
“For family members and the majority of my friends, it made us closer to wanting a better environment for all. However, I found out how a couple of friends viewed certain political people and it wasn’t the same as I believe causing a shift in our friendship,” she said.
Ramkissoon elaborated on how the political perspective of her friends differed from hers which caused shifts in their friendships.
“During the election, I found out one or two people I knew were Republicans and I’m a Democrat so hearing their views were kinda hard to understand because it felt as if they turned a blind-eye to certain topics, Democrats, like me, strongly believe in,” she said.
When discussing politics with our loved ones, we tend to attach to our beliefs, unconsciously using conformational bias to support our views. What we believe intertwines with our emotions, making it harder to see the other side.
“The same reason why most fights happen, people are more concerned with speaking and being heard rather than listening to understand and speaking to be understood. I also think that politics and personal emotions are very closely tied for most people and it is difficult to listen to someone disagree with you when you are in your feelings,” Mrs. Nelson said.
The importance of sharing the same views as loved ones interchanges based on the perception each individual maintains.
Chandanie Panday, a senior at Thomas Edison High School, shared that it is important to have the same perspective as our family members and friends because of the principles that lie behind political parties.
“There are just some issues that you can’t disagree with like Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter is a human rights issue. It is not something like a favorite movie, color, or something superficial. It’s very real and affects so many individuals that disagreeing with it is just choosing to be ignorant,” she said.
Karina Budhu, Edison Class of 2020, shared that having the same political views as family and friends is crucial.
“It is very important to share political views because I believe our political stands can impact and display the way we think and feel towards the country, certain standards, and humanity rights. If not, I do not think we would necessarily get along,” she said.
Although Budhu and her loved ones share the same notions on politics, she stated her initial feelings on viewpoints that do not align with hers.
“If there were opposing views, it would cause a rift because I believe political views are something that cannot be debated upon nor can change overnight. The support of the other party goes against my personal ideologies and beliefs as a person,” she said.
Despite the fact that many individuals choose to declare their political ethics, some remain rather neutral. Ms. Myrtia Petroutsos, a history teacher and PCG advisor at Thomas Edison High School, stated her overview on the conflicting side of her political stands.
“I don’t mind people having different political inclinations from me. After all, that’s what produces healthy discussion and debate. What I cannot stand is intolerance, racism, bigotry, discrimination, inequality, and injustice. When people begin to tie those to politics, I get aggravated and offended and would cut ties with such people,” she said.
On the contrary, some may disagree with these points of view. Mr. Adam Heavey, a history teacher and PCG advisor at Thomas Edison High School, shared that it is not fundamentally essential to share the same concepts as loved ones.
“It is not important for my friends or family to have the exact same political beliefs as I do. I care about you as a person and the values that you have in your household. Being an American patriot does not mean you blindly follow any politician or political party, patriotism is a recognition of America’s successes and failures. There are far too many people that shut out the other side and only listen to those that support their biases and views, that is not productive,” he said.
The ideas of the importance of sharing equal political views with loved ones fall back on how they affect our relationships with them. There are going to be times when a loved one’s political stance does not align with our own. What we need to encourage is a discourse between stakeholders to further understanding, and eventually, compromise.