Recently I was talking to a friend when he downright avoided delving into his political viewpoint. As I pressed further, he explained that it’s a free country and everyone is entitled to his own opinion. However, upon presenting their stance on any matter—religion, politics, what have you, they then become liable for their utterances. As American citizens we are exposed to arguments presented by Republicans and Democrats, atheists and Christians, and hopefully, we are able to settle said disputes in a mature and well-thought-out manner.

To quote the New York Times, “Envisioning a charitable but rigorous approach,” is the key to any successful debate. I do not mean successful in that you will get your way every time, but rather that you are able to present your cards to the table without making an utter fool of yourself.

All too often politics and religion bring out the very worst in people. They lead to sneers and jeers of opponents, alongside raised voices, rolled eyes, and consummate disproval. In an era where change must begin to happen now, our country will not get anywhere if our most serious debates are handled with little care and are highly symbolic of an elementary-school mock-government system. After all, wasn’t it in grade school that we were supposed to leave behind the silly habits of heedless mockery in regards to our opponents, or shall we say the silly habits of children?

So we must wonder why it is that we seem trapped within the confines of something that we should have long grown out of. Quite simply, many American citizens have forgotten what it means to gain perspective, and attempt to view something from someone else’s stance. If only we were to hold ourselves to the standards of the philosopher’s rule, we would allow our thoughts and opinions to be consumed by the idea of charitably contriving our opponent’s views and attempting to gain the best understanding from them.

Certainly, there are people in this world who genuinely understand and rummage their thoughts for the appropriate thing to say while in the midst of a debate. Nevertheless, some, rather many, still remain who claim to recognize where the other side is coming from, while at the same time spewing nonsense in an overwhelmingly fast sequence. This type of behavior, that is seen all too often, makes it clear that they did not gain insight but rather formulated what they were going to say next while their opponent was explaining his slant.

Imagine where our nation would be if politicians would take the time to think and argue like a philosopher? Rather than demoralizing politics into a mere contest between two individuals of two separate parties, perhaps our nation would finally begin to repair itself for the better.

Currently, America is undergoing the race for president. The Republican candidates all share orthodox views regarding government, the economy, and religion. They believe that there should be less government interference, a balanced budget, and overall support of Christianity.  As a citizen attempting to acquire a better understanding of Republicans and their views, I must question why it is that they wish to exemplify slight government interference in economics, but have no problem dictating a religion and code of ethics based upon said religion for the people of this country.

While I stand by my convictions as a left-leaning centrist, I in no way disavow some of the great ideals that Republicans hold. It’s my second year of college and I am finally beginning to understand that the  subjects that are constantly part of the discussion board in America will always boil down to politics and religion. Citizens must be able to speak freely about these subjects without fear that it will in some way cause uproar. Nearly a century ago America gained the common sense to integrate races; it’s time that we gain the knowledge and the power that comes with the integration of opinions.