Finding Common Ground is Essential

Thomas Marriner, Staff Writer

Mason, Ohio, is a suburb of Cincinnati located in the southwest of the Buckeye state. It was deemed to be the seventh best place in America to live by Money Magazine in 2013. Its high school is attended by nearly 4,000 students, the largest in the state of Ohio.

Until this past summer, I lived in Mason for most of my life, when I moved to Orinda. Over the first several days of school, I realized the extent of the atmospheric differences between the two schools.

I consider myself to be relatively politically centrist, which is somewhat of a rarity both here and in southwest Ohio. In both areas, most tend to gravitate towards one end of the political spectrum.

At Mason High School, the vast majority of students were more conservative than I. And, in part with the conservative leanings, there was a more candid atmosphere. However, at Miramonte, there is more of an effort to be politically correct. And while it is wise to attempt not to offend everybody, the constant focus on political correctness and non-confrontationalism makes communication more difficult. Californians, in my experience, are not as direct as Ohioans. While there were still school policies against discrimination, there were more people who had less regard for hurt feelings at Mason High School—getting the point across was their primary goal.

These schools are polar political opposites. But at both schools, there is a certain closed-mindedness. Both student bodies fall primarily to one side of the political aisle, and are resistant to beliefs which do not match their own.

And this is a microcosm of the country as a whole. Many regions are dominated by one political ideology, and no matter what it is, people in that region are not accepting of other political beliefs. But in order to understand the divide—and eventually heal it—each side must listen to the other. No one has to agree with the other side, but merely shutting down the opinion of others is counter-productive in an era in which political divisiveness is reaching the boiling point. In order to properly function as a society, everyone must respect the right of others to have a different political position. In a time of unprecedented political unrest, high school students at both Mason and Miramonte can help heal the divide by simply listening to students with differing opinions without creating an argument.