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viewpoint

The Band-Aid aisle

| Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Standing in the Walgreens on 22nd in Washington, D.C., I looked at the handful of girls all stopped in the Band-Aid aisle. Our feet were perpetually blistered from traipsing in heels we hoped would help hide our confusion and insecurities during summer internships. As if looking the part was the key to conquering The Hill. This is of course fake news.
I spent my first week on the phone taking constituent calls about the GOP’s proposed House health care bill. Going in I did not know what the bill entailed, but neither did most callers who alternated almost exclusively between crying and screaming. I was emotionally exhausted, and the Band-Aids hardly helped my feet.
In addition, I commiserated with many constituents. Their words burned my eyes as I mumbled “I’ll be sure to pass that along to the senator,” and disconnected the line. The angry callers, those who felt like collateral damage in the party politics our country faces, were worse. They used words like “unconstitutional” and “unamerican” — and plenty of others I cannot write here — as temporary masks to much of their pain. As if Americans are standing in the Band-Aid aisle, wondering which brand best covers the wounds, confusion and insecurities created in a situation no one had experienced before now.
People say that parties used to not be this divided, and that once elections were over many would return to their lives. Now it seems impossible to escape the party loyalty and political polarization of the 2016 election season. Increasingly we see people choose their partners based on similar political views rather than religious beliefs, and watch news spread like an infection regardless of the information’s validity. Deaf to the opinions of others, we insist everyone is out to get us, so paranoid and scared out of our minds we limp into line with everyone else who is just as confused as we are.
I can tell you that most callers did not know all the facts, but I hardly blamed them. The pursuit of truth went to the wayside because fear is more captivating. It is our nation’s greatest addiction, and what I heard in every voice that called. Fear of what we do not know and feel we cannot control has divided people into parties, and it is in line to conquer the whole political system. America’s new fight is crossing the divide fear created to better understand one another and heal the nation we have tried to mend, but is just not what She used to be. So how do we finally acknowledge everyone else standing in the Band-Aid aisle? And see ourselves in the others who were also hurt while merely trying their best? Maybe when we do these wounds can begin to heal.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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