We are divided as a people, but through listening and bringing people together, regardless of who they are, we will become closer.

Today, many of the new media platforms and news outlets try to make their story the front headline, but in order to do so, they have to make everything as interesting as possible. There is often word twisting or leaving out crucial key points to make a catchy headline, like the title “Trump Abandons Iran Nuclear Deal He Long Scorned” from the news media outlet, the New York Times. This title makes it seem as though the blame is on President Trump. The media and politics almost make it absolute as it would seem, and this is where people start taking sides, dividing and working to create fine lines between each view. Conversations then become very hostile such as arguments over social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Condoleezza Rice, an American political scientist who served as the U.S. Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration, contributed to the film American Creed where she said that Americans have become divided, and that Americans have lost sight of what it is that makes us an American, and it has to do with the way we converse with each other.

The problem with the way Americans deal with conversations is that they see them as arguments both in politics and the media. It is as Joan Blades, a progressive political activist and founder of the political website “Move On,” says, that the reasons why people fail to converse with other people, whether they are a different race, religion, or political party opinion, is because there are a lot of “deeply dysfunctional practices.” Blades appears in the American Creed film and also talked about filter bubbles in a TED Talk recently. Her arguments explain that the discussions between politicians and the media are done so by setting it up as a fight. Blades also says that “When people listen to each other, that’s when things get done.” When she first started to talk politically, she realized that she couldn’t just talk to people that were of the same political party, so she started talking to people of the opposite political party where she met up with Mark Meckler, a conservative from California. She realized how beneficial it is to actually take the time to listen to the other side. She now knows that people must learn to listen and converse in a manner where everyone knows each and every side of the story and conversation, so that they can take into perspective what others think, rather than approaching the conversations as arguments without listening to other people’s perspectives.

Referring to what Blades said, Mark Meckler, the co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots and current president of the Citizens for Self Governance, says that on the media or in public, it is known that people and politicians challenge each other’s intelligence, views, integrity, or end up calling each other names. These types of “dysfunctional practices” are modeled for everyone across the country, especially in the media. When having conversations with others, it is important that people don’t speak in an “inflammatory way” or an offensive manner, says Meckler. People approach conversations as arguments because that’s what is and has been broadcasted over the media and news, but people need to start to change so that the model changes.

Both Blades and Meckler are political activists that are making a difference as normal American citizens who don’t hold political offices, and they are both showing others that they can make a difference without being someone in government or place of power. They, along with many others who participated in the film American Creed, like Eric Lui, Tegan Griffith, David M. Kennedy, Condoleezza Rice, and Terrence Davenport, are making a difference by listening to other Americans across the country and bringing them together so that they can converse about topics that they feel need to be addressed in government and in public. They do this by having conversations, not unorganized screaming matches, and this is why what they have been doing has been so effective. Mark Meckler and Joan Blades are acting to unite Americans through conversation. They are trying to change the model. The model of arguments needs to change from arguments to conversations. That is what will bring Americans closer.




Columbus High School American Creed - Continuing the Conversation

This group consists of student responses to the American Creed documentary from PBS and Citizen Film.

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