I learned an important lesson tonight. Instead of slinging mud at each other, we should actually try listening to each other. I was on the verge of a Twitter war with a Republican over the Affordable Care Act, but instead of snapping on him, I stopped myself and asked if we could try to have a legitimate discussion about it. He agreed, and for the next hour, we proceeded to talk through our concerns and actually listen to each other.
It turns out that his anger came from a place of fear and uncertainty about how the Affordable Care Act will affect him and his family. Once we got to the root of it, I actually began to feel compassion for him, and I understood why he was angry. I was able to provide him with some research to ease some of his concerns, and he was able to challenge my ideas by pointing out things I hadn't considered before. In the end, we both learned something and we came to realize that our differences in perspective were mostly based on our different life experiences. We may not agree on how to handle policy, but we were able to acknowledge and respect each other's reasons for feeling the way we do.
The bottom line? We need to listen to each other and acknowledge one another's humanity. Next time you are about to lash out at a political opponent for what you believe to be an irrational idea, try stopping and asking them why they feel the way they do. You might just be surprised by what you learn.