We are more than our politics

Guest Writer Colin Lang argues that political beliefs do not and should not define our lives, personalities and social circles.

“Cura Personalis,” or care for the whole person, is one of Xavier’s greatest values inherited from the Jesuits. In terms of education, this value is often expressed as a desire to help individual students grow and learn in all aspects of their lives. Well-rounded individuals advance themselves intellectually, physically, spiritually, emotionally and so on.

Personally, I find this concept compelling because it emphasizes that we as people are not limited to a single defining trait or skill. Each of us has traits or features that are more refined, abilities and skills in which we excel. However, we can continue to further ourselves in all areas so that we are set up to be competent and successful individuals in places where we are weak.

It may seem like an odd conclusion, but a lot of the recent political turmoil has actually reaffirmed my belief in the need for a “Cura Personalis” approach to life. Specifically, I think that the growing strife may be connected to a lack of well-roundedness.

I think everyone would agree that people, as a whole, are incredibly complex and intricate. Each person we meet has his or her own beliefs, thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams. Yet, when it comes to politics, we are radically separated into categories based on how we, or one of our stances, are perceived.

As an example, say I have a (fictitious) friend named Percival who is pro-life. Almost instinctively, our minds have slotted Percival into a category of conservative beliefs that he may not wholly fit. We do not know the truth about him, or what he believes. For all we know, he could be pro-life, pro-gun control, pro-big government, and pro-family. Most of those values tend to be the exact opposite that we would associate with someone who is pro-life.

Oftentimes in contemporary politics, people are hyper-focused on particular issues or narratives to the point where those issues and narratives begin to bleed across their entire lives. This is just what “Cura Personalis” seeks to avoid because it lets one facet of life dominate the rest.

I’m certain everyone has encountered someone like this at some point in their life. There’s that one guy who can’t let anyone forget he’s related to a politician. Maybe it’s the girl who constantly reminds every one of her study abroad trip. It could be the guy who constantly approaches everything from an intersectional feminist perspective. Or perhaps it’s the girl who prefaces every single statement with “as a Reagan conservative.”

Letting singular pieces of your personality or identity dominate the rest isn’t healthy, nor is it beneficial for society. As we have clearly seen throughout the past few months, our nation has become increasingly divided. In part, this is due to people allowing political issues, narratives or identifications drive them away from one another.

During the 2016 election, I saw so many people destroy relationships simply because they disagreed over an issue, a candidate or even a joke. I continue to see it now, with single issues driving wedges between friends or destroying entire social networks. Frankly, if one political disagreement is enough to ruin the friendship or relationship two people have built, they really need to take a step back and assess the priorities in their lives. We aren’t all politics, and disagreements aren’t the end of the world.

Colin Lang is a junior Philosophy, Politics and the Public and history double major. He is a guest writer for the Newswire from Westlake, Ohio.