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Brian Hamilton: Stop with the party line; start thinking for yourself

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

I know. Opening with a quote is so cliché.

But I’ve been revisiting this one regularly. That dark cloud just keeps creeping back.

… just because we might disagree, that certainly does not make you — or me — the enemy.

We think we’ve grown as human beings.

But too often, we see how far we’ve yet to go with racism rearing its ugly, ignorant head from Charlottesville to Grass Valley.

We so easily slip back into “debates” over political wedge issues that keep us from coming together to solve the actual problems that plague us.

And it seems we’re dangerously close to accepting the mass murder of people to somehow become a new normal in this nation.

Heavy hearts and angry attitudes rule the day.

I started writing this column in the wake of 59 people being shot dead, and 500 more injured, at a concert in Las Vegas. By the time I picked it up again, not quite a month later, 26 more Americans were shot dead, and another 20 injured, during a Sunday morning church service in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Closer to home, on Tuesday morning in Tehama County, news agencies reported five people were dead — including the shooter — and at least 10 other people, including children, were injured after shooting incidents that started at a home and apparently ended at an elementary school.

And we were told, after the Vegas massacre, it was too soon to talk about gun violence out of respect for the victims.

Of course, we don’t talk about our issues.

We shout over each other, to the point we can’t even hear what we’re saying.

And when our words do get through, we mock, belittle and point to “the other side” as being the problem, instead of the problem that’s actually on the table.

But when we do get around to talking about gun violence, or racism, or sexual assault and harassment, or whether a foreign country meddled in our elections, all the political posturing — with news being viewed in either a red or blue hue — leaves little room for an actual discussion, let alone action, that might make things better.

Watching our elected leaders twist themselves into knots to excuse or blame — depending on the news of the day and from which side of the aisle the subject of that news sits — is such a pathetic, and predictable, display of what’s really wrong.

Political parties are the problem.

Or, perhaps, blind allegiances to them are the problem.

The left-right nonsense has made compromise such a dirty word that it seems an anomaly that any bill comes forth with bipartisan support.

Instead of sitting down and working together to solve problems, our senators and representatives are more likely to stake out their party’s position. By instinct, they draw the party line in the sand and then kick the can down the road, of course to be recycled to raise millions of dollars for the next election cycle.

Stop subscribing to the group think of political parties and parroting their talking points. Start thinking for yourself.

Ask me where I stand and I’ll ask you on which issue.

Obviously, there’s a great deal of disagreement between the two political parties on the path forward on myriad issues our country faces. But, as Americans, we all ultimately want what’s best for our country and our people.

Certainly, we can agree on that?

How about we set aside those left and right lenses, and start focusing on where we do agree to work toward solutions, not geared to satisfy party platforms but to solve problems for our people?

Surely, we can also agree:

People with mental illness should not have access to weapons, let alone those capable of killing dozens in a matter of minutes.

Foreign powers meddling with the most basic fundamental of our freedom — our vote — is an attack on our country.

All men and women are created equal, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation.

And, finally, just because we might disagree, that certainly does not make you — or me — the enemy.

Contact Editor Brian Hamilton at bhamilton@theunion.com or 530-477-4249.

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