The way a person perceives things matters because people hold values, beliefs and experiences, but one must not be too static in life and should strive to improve perceptions of the world around himself or herself. In today’s age, our political culture is more divisive than ever, with lack of experience and understanding of certain events and for other groups of people.
The same idea of misunderstanding holds true in voting. It is important to note that approximately 112 million voting-eligible Americans didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential election. The perception of when we fail to notice the nuances in our society and strictly look to what we may see or hear the most is when we start to socialize ourselves with politically like-minded people — and many times fail to even consider others’ opinions.
The nuance is what seems to be missing from our atmosphere, which is contributing to the loud discourse we seem to have today. If all a person perceives is what is most apparent, then all dissimilarities of politics are lost where the majority stands. According to a recent Gallup poll, the percentage of Independents is a staggering 44 percent — compared to 26 percent for Republicans and 27 percent Democrats. If mainstream parties, or the outlying ones, were to reach out and clearly establish what differentiates them, then our society’s perceptions of how we view other opinions would expand as a whole.
We live in what people like to call a melting pot, but the irony of such is that the melting pot hasn’t melted in values simply because people’s political principles are different. The concept is fine, but growth and empathy come from expanding one’s perception — and the only way to do this is to expand your horizons of what information you expose yourself to.
In the 2016 presidential election, only approximately 138 million out of 250 million voting-eligible Americans voted. The two main candidates received near-equal shares of the popular vote. The stark difference between the two candidates — Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — were apparent with the lack of any nuance from other major party candidates.
If you wish to grow as a person and push forward for a better community, and world as a whole, then you must change your perception by searching for differences in a clouded world. There are many ways to make that possible by exploring new hobbies and places and putting yourself in a certain mindset. The world would be a much better place if we allowed nuance in politics on a mainstream platform, which would then expand people’s perception. Overall, we are more alike than we are different.
Jonathan Lovelady is a senior sociology and geology major.