When you’re looking for something at the grocery store, labels are very useful. But when it comes to relationships and understanding, labels can also divide us if we use that label to be the only descriptor of that person. Labels are especially prominent when it comes to politics, and we wondered: can legislators from opposite sides of the aisle get along?
We talked with two former state legislators—from two different political parties—to hear how they were able to work together and form a genuine friendship. In this video excerpt from our Building Bridges video series, watch former state representative Amanda Price describe how to see past typical labels that may divide us.
Amanda says, “A person who’s a Democrat or Republican is not their party, they’re an individual. They are made up of a whole bunch of life experiences: tragedies, happiness— and that’s the piece of the person you need to understand. It’s not their political philosophy. It’s who they are as a person.
What makes them up as that individual. What makes them so special to everyone? And, and when you know that about somebody, you’re not as likely to classify them as “Oh that Democrat . . .” or, “That Republican . . .” You really have to understand what makes them up as a very unique individual that God created.”
Here’s our caregiving take-ways from our conversation with Amanda and David Rutledge:
Embrace Individuality: Recognize that individuals are more than their labels. Each person has a unique set of life experiences, values, and perspectives that shape who they are. Take the time to understand the person behind the label by engaging in meaningful conversations and actively listening to their stories. By focusing on their individuality, you can move beyond preconceived notions and stereotypes associated with labels.
Seek Common Ground: Look for shared values and goals that transcend political or ideological differences. While people may belong to different parties or hold opposing views, there are often areas of agreement or common interests. By focusing on common ground, you can build bridges and foster understanding, creating opportunities for collaboration and cooperation.
Practice Empathy and Respect: Approach interactions with empathy and respect, regardless of political affiliations or labels. Recognize that everyone has their own reasons for their beliefs and values, shaped by their unique experiences. Avoid generalizations and sweeping judgments about a person based on their label. Instead, try to put yourself in their shoes and understand their perspective. Treat others with respect, even in disagreements, fostering a more constructive and inclusive dialogue.
Remember, labels can be limiting and divisive if we allow them to define others solely based on their political affiliations or other categorical markers. By seeing past labels we can foster understanding, bridge divides, and build stronger connections with people who may hold different viewpoints. And this will allow us to be more caring individuals.
To watch more videos in our Building Bridges series, click here.