Bridging the Gap between Former Schoolmates

by Andrew Lidden Pate, Jr.

Check any social media source for contacts between alumni of a high school, and you'll likely find a sharp divergence in political views, quite similar to the divides among the general population.

The most notable divergence among former school-mates has to do with presidential politics: You're either strongly pro-Trump or strongly anti-Trump. Few dare to stand in the middle-ground between the extremes.

Why?

For multiple reasons, ranging from the accidents of one's birth to one's current economic circumstance, and all statuses in-between and beyond.

The family of one's origination certainly has a lot to do with an individual's current political views. If the parents of your household were of one political persuasion, the chances are great that you will follow that persuasion well into adulthood.

Even if one or the other political parties is radically different from that of your parents, when one reaches adulthood, the generational alteration takes place very slowly. Take a broader but applicable example: it took a century for a Democratic South to become the Republican South; and so, in recent decades, we have seen the reverse shift taking place over an exceptionally long period.

Positions on issues like gun control, immigration and globalization also have strong family origins.  If your dad was a hunter, you probably learned to love guns at an early age. Similarly, if in your family "different" folks were regarded with suspicion, and life in different lands was thought strange and inferior, you have been strongly swayed toward holding on to those views.

If the "anti-other" stances within your family of upbringing are in most instances held by the majority within the community or communities of your growing-up years, they are likely still with you, strongly so and, yes, existing therein almost solely in your sub-consciousness, of which you are probably unaware.

A second major determining factor in the formulation of our grown-up politics is our education, the level of achievement within it and how many levels of its advancement. Persons with little formal education do, of course, sometimes share the political views of the exceptionally well educated. But, for the most part, the more you're educated, the more you're likely to have very high expectations of a president, like, his or her education, experience, and sophistication—culturally and politically. This was well shown in the Mid-term elections of 2018, in the wave of opposition to Trump. Generally speaking, the expectations of the less educated are less sophisticated and often are expressed at a more emotional level.

Deep down, however , we like to think that we have personally chosen our political loyalties. We support candidates and positions we believe in keeping with our value systems, true to the beliefs we hold closest to our hearts.

Our religious perspective may be a major influence here. If it is "Evangelical" Christian, we tend to hold to the political views of that tradition. If Unitarian, we tend to hold more liberal political views. So on and so forth.

An inescapable tension for adult citizens of the U.S. is the conflict between their firmly-held positions and those antithetical to them No one of us likes to admit to being wrong. None of us wants to confess openly to having an uninformed comprehension of globalization, climate change, and how the world economy operates. We go with our "guts," and say "to hell" with everybody else.

In large measure, many if not most of us react to opposing political views with a resentment that simply will not go away. How dare you present your thoughts as superior to mine! How dare you promote "socialism" and other "left-wing" ideologies!

So, what are we to do? Keep on fighting one another, committed to never changing, and thus assuring that we will never, never be One people again?

I trust, I pray not.

My solution to the Great Divide is simple, and does not originate with me.

But I am persuaded that if we do not try it, we will surely fail: "Love your enemies. . ."

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