Playing our part in reducing toxic politics

This article was originally published as a web original for the Christian Science Sentinel on October 31, 2018.

These certainly seem like toxic times when it comes to political discourse around the world—from endless arguments in the United Kingdom between Brexiteers (wishing to leave the European Union) and Remainers (wishing to stay), to fierce divisions over who is the legitimate president of Venezuela, to polarized views of the way forward for America between the major parties in the United States. 

It often seems as if feeling or facing rage is the price we have to pay if we want to stay informed and engaged. So we might ask ourselves, “How do I keep anger at bay while still caring about the issues that matter?”

A starting point for me has been to ask myself how I’m perceiving those who hold firm to positions I disagree with. In this regard, a comment made by the previous US ambassador to the United Nations as she was stepping down from the role has been thought-provoking. Addressing a charity dinner in New York City, Nikki Haley said, “In our toxic political life, I’ve heard some people in both parties describe their opponents as enemies or evil…. We have some serious political differences here at home. But our opponents are not evil, they’re just our opponents” (, “Nikki Haley: ‘Our opponents are not evil, they’re just our opponents’,” October 19, 2018). 

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