Both sides must be seen in dialogue

Are we looking out for "America" or "Americans" when we speak about policy? This seems one of the biggest problems with civic discourse today. America is founded on the idea of pluralism, not that of majority rule. It is a system that should account for diverse groups, and should not create an "us" vs. "them" mentality. We are all in this together.

The debate in Congress was telling when the airlines were looking to merge. The process is still working, but the airlines were saying that by merging, they would be able to provide better services at a lower cost.

There was a problem, though. Central sites known as "hubs" would have to be closed to facilitate lower costs. They had more employees than they needed between the merged airlines – so these workers’ jobs are done. The move was good for the American consumer, but bad for the workers in those hubs. Was this good for all of America or just for particular Americans?

The Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 was co-sponsored by 40 Republicans. It was signed into law by a Republican president. So basically, big tobacco got taken to the bank for putting out poison, then our government bought them out. It cost about $10 billion. $10 billion of all of America’s tax dollars went to a handful of people in one industry. This legislation was needed, and it passed both houses. Is it good for America or just particular Americans?

Is there truly anything that is good for all of America? Will one policy benefit and hurt 300 million people the same? Republicans think socialism is fine sometimes and other times not. Democrats use socialism sometimes as well, and other times they claim they are not socialists.

The problem happens when people say things like "social programs are evil;" it is probably because there has never been a time when they needed help. It seems odd that Houston would want any help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at all. This town is so Republican, it seems like hypocrisy to ask for a government handout when you chose to live in a hurricane-prone region. But nonetheless, thousands of Texas Republicans submitted forms and stood in lines for a government handout – welfare.

Everything here is so two-sided: black or white, good or evil, Republican or Democrat. This is majority philosophy. Two sides are pitted against each other, and the stronger gets to make policy based on their ideological views. Therefore, what is good for one has to be bad for the other. It all finally boils down to, "what is good for ME, is good for America."

If a baby is born to a crack cocaine-addicted prostitute, who is that good for? Lets say she gets pregnant. This kid has every risk factor there is for growing up to be a murderer, rapist or just plain thug. This kid also is a great candidate for welfare, Medicare and other handouts. But because the idea of abortion is bad for one group, this kid may have to grow up in the hell that America can be, but many people never see. So is preventing abortion good for America or just particular Americans?

People have their morals. That is fine, and it is their right. However, inflicting your morals on others and saying it is good for them shows a serious lack of the ability to empathize with others. It shows that others’ lives are less important than your views. It shows that you assume you are "America." It shows that despite the fact that you have only walked in your shoes, you are telling others how to walk in theirs. Next time an idea comes up that you disagree with, ask yourself why you disagree. Are you so certain that you have fully evaluated your own beliefs and the logic and results of them that you are certain no other belief has any validity?

Nothing is black and white. Everything has degrees. Nothing is absolute. Thinking in absolutes precludes any chance you have of learning anything your parents, church or friends didn’t teach you. In America, it is not "you" vs. "them." We are all in this together, and just because something may not be in your best interest, sincerely think about it. How bad is it for you? Let’s say taxes go up 2 percent, but this 2 percent will go to help a child who was born with defects from his drug-addicted mom. Is your 2 percent more valuable than the future of that child who had no say in the life he was born into? Not only that, but if he fights his way out of that life and tries to do better, would you deny him food stamps while he goes through college without Mom and Dad there to help him?

Khan, a political science and history junior, can be reached via [email protected]

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