Sunday, November 13, 2016

Ending the Echo Chamber

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Julie Jee, a high school English teacher from New York whom I follow on Twitter (@mrsjjee), posted, “This election is making me realize that we're all just screaming inside echo chambers of our own making.” Sadly, friendships both on and off line have been lost during this last election cycle. Regardless of the outcome, roughly half of the population was going to be upset.
It’s human nature to surround ourselves with others who are like us. Therefore, it stands to reason that the people we interact with on social media will likewise share similar views. The media was steadfastly against Trump becoming our next president. Even conservative newspapers supported Clinton over him. Was this an indictment on Trump’s ability and mindset to lead the country? Probably. Only time can answer that question. But it’s also fair to say that the media, like many of us, got caught up in its own echo chamber full of inaccurate polling and a lack of focus on the very thing that made Trump’s rise to power so strong--many Americans feel ignored by the political system.
If this country is going to heal, then we have to stop echoing thoughts that agree with our preconceived notions and biases. People who are against Trump are protesting and rioting in the streets; meanwhile, Trump supporters--even school-age supporters--are doing egregious things to their classmates, to women, and to minorities. It's time for people to treat each other with respect and dignity again. We will not all agree with each other's political and religious views, but at the end of the day, we are all human beings; we are all Americans. Discussion on these topics with the intent of understanding the other side is what helps us grow and become more accepting of each other. Life is not a binary code composed entirely of 0s and 1s. Parents need to stop teaching their children to hate. Life is too short for that. Love will always conquer hate, and it's time for the healing to begin. This means turning off openly biased Fox News and MSNBC. It means not sharing hateful things on social media; we know that war leads to more war, and hate only leads to more hate--the current divisiveness of our society is proof of that. It means standing up for minorities when people are ugly to them. They need our help now, more than ever.
For that reason, if you see me out in public, I will have a safety pin attached to my shirt. I will wear it as a symbol of solidarity with victims of racism, homophobia and religious discrimination. I will remain an ally to marginalized groups. I want others to join me.

Trump’s presidency is expected to be unapologetically anti-marriage equality, anti-immigrant, and anti-minority. (There’s a reason why the KKK openly supports him.) Reverting progressive policies opens the door to an increase in racism and xenophobia. It’s crucial during our unification that we be highly self-conscious about spewing hate toward each other. As a father of two young girls, as a teacher to over 100 students each year, and as a lifelong Democrat, I intend to set an example for the future generation to follow. The Law of the Prophets teaches us to “do to others what you would have them do to you.” To me, the safety pin is a perfect representation of this law. If I were an American-born son of immigrant parents facing classmates who yell “build a wall” and “go home” at me, then I would hope for someone to be in my corner.

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