How to Deal With Differences in the Political Arena

Two hands just touching fingertips

The political divide is incomprehensible to people across the spectrum. Instead of presenting the arguments of both sides, let me suggest a different division that will clarify your reasons for opposition.

I’m going to divide people into two groups: those who think we can all work together, and those who think that is impractical. I’ll call these attitudes one-world and multi-world.

The first thing to notice is that if you believe in one world, you have to accept that your group includes multi-world people who don’t believe in your ideals. Weird, huh? You can’t throw them out because that just creates a multi-world situation, something you don’t believe in. You have to accept the existence of others and allow them their beliefs without trying to change them. Of course, if they act on those beliefs and attempt to create artificial divisions, push back, but in general, they have the right to believe what they believe. This opens up a huge discussion about mores, ethics, laws and their legitimacy. Check the literature from the last 3,000 years for more details.

The way to resolve this paradox is to understand that we can see other people in two ways: how they are similar to us and how they differ from us. I’m not going to list similarities and differences; you can do that. (What you come up with is going to be a big tell about your attitude.)

By looking at people in this way, you can see that we are similar and different at the same time. This coexistence doesn’t sit well with the human tendency to say that things are one way or the other; it is hard to hold two viewpoints simultaneously. If you are in the one-world group, you will tend to see similarities, and if you are in the multi-world group, you will primarily see differences.

The pull of the multi-world group is strong in humans. It manifests as tribalism, nationalism, racism, sexism, elitism. Yet we are not just animals totally controlled by our feelings; we each have a mind, too. That is what makes us human. And though it is slow, feeble, and often loses in the arguments with our feelings, yet our mind can nudge how we feel and act. The two great drivers of behavior are fear and love. The perception of others as similar is powered by love, and the perception of others as different is driven by fear.

So I return to the political divide. Is it a fundamental difference between two types of humans, or is it a manifestation of tribalism that is interfering with how we live on earth?

Humans are not solitary creatures like, say, an octopus; we can only survive by working as a group. Each person works at their own specialty and together we create modern society. Only feelings of empathy, altruism and caring could sustain this. Love, in other words. I leave it to you to look inside yourself, find your feelings about other people, ask how appropriate they are, and act accordingly.

Originally published on

Photo credit: Toa Heftiba via Unsplash

Phil Mayes writes about relationships, programs in Python, and foretells the future.

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