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We’re living in uncharted waters, in frightening times. Everywhere I turn, it’s becoming clear that the single-most precious ingredient for human life is slowly fading away: Compassion.

On Facebook, I see political posts daily. While I commend the people in my life for evading political apathy and taking advantage of their freedoms of speech, there’s a heartbreaking trend of polarization. It’s no longer about noticing difference in policy. It’s about attacking people.

Kindness and civility are in short supply.

There’s always a new post targeting opposition, in the most demeaning ways. This morning I saw a video with the headline “Shit Liberals Say,” and yesterday was “You’ll Never Believe How Stupid These Trump Followers Are.” By feeding into these videos, articles, and memes, all we’re doing is dividing ourselves. We’re breaking each other down.

I credit most of my exposure to ignorance to growing up in a small and isolated town, where “liberal” is often a bad word. Not everyone is closed-minded, but there’s a fair share. I used to really blame this collective ignorance on being sheltered and distanced from the real world, but it’s not really that black and white.

If you turn on the television, you can see clips of debates with politicians spewing hate, yelling at each other, and using childish rhetoric to ridicule and bully. It’s no wonder that the masses have taken suit. Kindness and civility are in short supply.

Truthfully, the hatred we are seeing is not unique to the political season upon us. There’s always something in the air— a lion-hunting scandal, a civil rights case, a mass shooting— that serves as a platform for polarization. Instead of embracing our difference, we distance ourselves from it.

As we see tongues sharpening and logic dulling, it’s critical to stay strong. Strength, in this day and age, needs to be more about kindness, understanding, and compassion. I urge anyone and everyone to drop their defenses, and reach out to those in opposition. You’ll find, every time, that they have a beating heart too.

—Savannah Nelson

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