Living in a Politically Divided Community: A Teenager’s View

One day I was running downtown, and I saw a Confederate flag hung up in someone’s window. I cringed but continued running. A few houses down I came across a gay pride flag. I had to stop to comprehend how utterly ironic this was. If this doesn’t sum up living in a politically divided town, I don’t know what does.

Let me break it down: because political opinions often reflect people’s jobs, ways of life, and upbringing, it is common for towns/cities to have citizens with similar political views. However, sometimes there are areas that contradict. For example, my town is 26.0% Democrat 31.6% Republican, making it a politically divided community.

Despite their views, people within my town live, work, and intermingle with each other. However, when issues of politics comes up in a social situation, things can get heated.

Teachers at my school are very open about their political views. In one class my teacher, who is notorious for going on rants, somehow ended up on the topic of gun control. He went on about how if someone participated in the walkout they are “uneducated, and following the crowd”.  I looked around the room and some of my classmates looked uneasy and angry, while others listened in awe and admiration. A few were actually… asleep. As much as I wanted to, I felt as if I couldn’t speak up and say my opposing opinion because the teacher is in a position of authority, and also about half the class would disagree with me.

After class, my close group of friends and I discussed the topic of gun control. We had disagreements, and the conversation got heated. However, this didn’t change our friendship because we have all grown up in an area where people often disagree; therefore, we have learned to accept differences in opinion. Over the years, I have learned that just because I disagree politically with someone, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t respect them.

Looking at the bigger picture, differences in opinion within society is beautiful. Debating issues allows people to learn from each other. Growing up in a politically divided community has allowed me to accept people despite our differences. I am a Moderate Liberal, and some of my closest friends are blatantly Conservative — but I do not let that get in the way of our friendship. Besides, who would I debate with if everyone agreed with me?

Photo: DonkeyHotey via Flickr

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