An Open Letter to Republicans and Democrats

This is not a blog about politics. This is a blog about owning less and living more.

But, like every American, I have been struck by the tragedy of the Tucson Massacre last weekend. Innocent people died that day… good people died that day… a 9-year old girl died that day.

And while the jury is still out on the exact motivation of the killer, one thing became clear during last night’s Memorial Service in Tucson: the United States of America must once again become united. We are one nation. We are one people. We are one piece in the only world we’ve got. And while we need not agree on all points of politics, we must make every effort to pursue unity.

  • We need humility. Our specific political party does not hold all of the answers. During my short lifetime, on numerous occasions, both political parties have held significant majorities in government. But our problems still exist. It is clear that no one, single political party holds all the answers. In other words, we need each other.
  • We need patience. Our problems did not start overnight. And they will not be solved overnight.
  • We need appreciation. Republicans love and serve America. Democrats love and serve America. The sooner we appreciate that fact (and our differences), the sooner we can work together towards a common goal.
  • We need to stop assuming intentions. Our nation faces problems – it always has and always will. And good people will always differ on the best solution. But making sweeping assumptions about an opposing viewpoints’ intentions will never move the debate forward. It is the easiest way to discount any valid, opposing argument. It is also one of the most damaging. In fact, in my opinion, it is one of the primary reasons that civility has completely vanished from our political discourse.
  • We need maturity. We can not afford any longer to be tossed back and forth by men or women who profit from sharp, stinging, political discourse. Debating politics in the public arena is good and to be encouraged. But dividing the country for the sake of profit is not.
  • We need wholesome talk. Remove falsehood, rumors, and gossip. Instead, our words need to benefit anyone who will listen and build up everyone who hears them.
  • We need less bitterness, rage, anger, and slander. These attitudes and actions always escalate and only produce more of themselves. They have never resulted in solutions… and they never will.
  • We need more kindness, forgiveness, and compassion. Towards each other – in our daily lives and in our politics.

I’m not naive enough to think that the simple application of “patience,” “appreciation,” or “wholesome talk” will solve our world’s complicated problems. But I do think they hold the key to uniting this country once again… or at least, enough to prevent the senseless death of good, innocent people.

And that’s one thing all of us can agree on.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. james says

    Don’t send me this rubbish. If it’s not a poltics blog, they don’t post about politics. Full Spot. Plus you just alienated your entire non-US fanbase. Congrats. Blog unsubscribed

      • Barb in GA says

        One man’s rubbish is, after all, another man’s treasure. And this post is worthy of treasuring. I’m not offended when blogs post about the sad conditions in Queensland, Australia even though they don’t directly affect me and are off-topic for the blog. Excellent sentiments, Joshua.

    • Mike Reilly says

      This isn’t rubbish in the least – it’s a very poignant and significant post concerning a recent tragedy in the U.S. with advice that can apply anywhere. Joshua eloquently states “We need less bitterness, rage, anger, and slander” – I fail to see how anyone can be “alienated” by this.

      I’m forwarding the link to this post to everyone I know, in hopes of sharing the message.

    • says

      James,

      Take the “politics” out of this and it’s still a compelling message filled with several minimalist maxims (e.g., humility, patients, appreciation, maturity, compassion, forgiveness, etc.). It’s really not a political message at all, it’s simply in the context of an American tragedy (one that has made worldwide news by the way, so it does not alienate the entire non-US fanbase, as you say).

      Joshua Millburn

    • Alexis says

      I don’t see how this would alienate non-US readers. Some people just need something to gripe and groan about.

      Joshua, this is my first time reading your writing, and may I say, this is very good and oh, so true. Hopefully, if any one thing can come from this tragedy, it will be that people– even though they may not agree ideologically– will be more respectful of those around them and will think before they speak.

    • Kiri says

      Surely what values we choose to live by is be reflected in how we choose to conduct/engage with politics, no matter where we are in the world.

    • Raquel says

      Well, this Canadian is still here and is greatly appreciative of your efforts to inform us of what happened and your opinion on what should/needs to be done by the rest of America/Canada/Australia/Timbucktoo etc etc….rubbish, this post is not; political maybe tending to that side but so what!

  2. Shannon says

    Excellent post. I especially think we need less rage and anger, as we can already see by one reviewer’s comment. It tears my heart apart at how awful people can be to each other. Perhaps we could prevent a great deal of tragedy by simply learning to treat each other with kindness. Particularly during adolescence. Thank you, Joshua. I’ll be speaking kinder today because of your post.

  3. Susan says

    Well said. Thank you. As a non American reader, it’s great to read something like this to know that all Americans are not arrogant or ignorant.

      • Kate says

        I’m a USA-American* living in Europe, and yes, there is quite a bit of “stereotypical Ami” attitude here. (Not everywhere, but then again, not all French smoke cigarettes, all Germans chug Bier, and all Italians eat pasta daily…:)

        I counter it where I can with humor, and get the most secretly-giggly delight when a native speaker raises their eyebrows after talking with me a while and says something along the lines of, “YOU’RE an American?! But you can talk our language so well!”

        Bwahaha, I am a language ninja.

        (But seriously) There is also many situations where I have to keep a straight face. Say for example the conversation with teenagers in the train back in 2009, where they were Ami-bashing, and I spoke up with, “You know, they’re also people like you…” To say this, I had to come around the side of the seat and when I saw them, I almost forgot what I was going to say. I saw Levi, Coca-Cola, iPhones, a shirt with Ford written on it, and three out of four feet had Nike on. They weren’t too friendly at first, but a pointing out of the USA brands they were toting might have made an impact. I hope so–because I had to get out at the next station, and wasn’t able to talk more than 10′.

        *USA-American? Well…I was once in London, and talked to this man.
        “Hey, your accent’s American! What state are you from?”
        “…You b*y USA-ers think you’re the entire continent! I’m Canadian, d* it!”
        So now I specify, USA-American, Canadian, Mexican, etc. That bite of humble pie made an impression. *sheepish*

  4. says

    While I don’t think any of the things you list would have made a difference in this case — misguided people will always find someone to follow — the world would be better if politicians practiced unity.

    I don’t write much about politics because it is ultimately such a useless endeavor. One commentator — the sheriff in the Tucson area, I think — said that we are rapidly reaching a time when reasonable people will no longer run for office. I wonder if we aren’t already there.

    Gip

    • says

      Thanks for the comment Gip. I hadn’t heard that quote before. To be honest, I’m not holding my breath about this being an article passed around Capitol Hill. It’s simply a call to civility and unity among the people – after all, that’s where most of us live our lives.

    • Dan says

      Well said, Gip. These points are all common sense for reasonable people, and will come off as condescending to unreasonable ones. The shooter in Tucson was a nut who held no particular political affiliations or even consistent viewpoints. He didn’t looks at a map with crosshairs or get fired up listening to talk radio. He was insane. No amount of polite, tolerant speech would have deterred him. Everyone is trying to take advantage of this situation, including the media. When we feel pain, we must find someone to blame. In this case, sadly because it denies us closure, there is no one to blame but the gunman. “Society” didn’t create him. “Liberals” didn’t create him. “The Tea Party” didn’t create him. A random act of violence happened. It is horrifying and tragic. I pray for the victims and hope Joshua’s pleas strike a nerve. That’s good for the country. It won’t stop insane people from mass murder, though.

  5. Heidi says

    The whole world took note of 9/11. Tucson is a smaller tragedy only in numbers. Both incidents are the result of persons with opposing viewpoints failing to discourse politely. Every person in a leadership position has been given the opportunity to lead a better discussion and I applaud Josh for taking the opportunity.

  6. says

    Thank you for posting this progressive statement. It certainly did not alienate me as a European reader. On the contrary. “We” tend to see the US as a country where politicians play the blame game more often than not for their own political gains. Instead of love and trust, money is thrown around and blasphemy is offered and bought cheaply. Unfortunately we tend to copy this behavious over here. It can only be stopped with the right attitude, and I think you are on the right track. But will it become reality eventually or remain Utopia? Who knows…

  7. Anne says

    Thank you for such a posting. Things have certainly gotten out of hand. I hope that things can be learned from this tragedy which will lead to greater unity. We shall see…

  8. Carolyn says

    Less rage, more kindness. Sounds like a simple way to create a better country. Yes, we will never solve ALL problems, but we can stop being so cruel to each other while we try to deal with them.

  9. Abel says

    I don’t know about all this unite stuff. The country seems pretty polarized, and when that happens, groups split off. With your paradigm, we should ask to join back up with England. If those early colonialists had just had some maturity and patience, surely they could have solved their issues with the monarchy.

    Let people be. Sudan might brea off into two parts, and that would be great. Italy is in this constant state of breaking into north and south. What’s so wrong with the US turning more into Europe? That way everyone in Texas can die of smoke inhalation and gun shot wounds, and everyone in Seattle can die of boredom from being healthy and PC all the time.

    I don’t know. The ideas feel “stay together for the kids.”

    • Jason says

      No, it’s more like “Don’t assume those who disagree with you are stupid, evil, raging lunatics.” If you assume the other side is full of intelligent, compassionate individuals with good intentions, you can agree to disagree because you have the same goals, just different ideas about how to achieve them. When you starting imputing evil motives, you get better ratings but you are no longer able to communicate on an even field.

  10. says

    Those are words to live by everyday and in every relationship. Too much “me” gets in the way a lot of the time and nothing changes.

    I believe the gunman is a mentally ill adult. Sadly, as a society we don’t have compassion for them and services, even if they are desired, are extremely lacking or non-existent and hard to navigate for the healthy let alone someone with a mental illness.

    I sure wish the debate the media was having was on care for our nation’s mentally ill rather than on who says what…..so sad.

  11. says

    flip-flop guy here bringing ultra-cool to minimalism. It is all about happiness. Stuff doesn’t make me happy except my flippie-floppies. Enjoying your time that matters. I enjoyed reading your blog and your super-hot.
    I’ve been a minimalist and enjoy my life and don’t let society dictate my happiness cause flip-flop guy is ultra-cool.

  12. Minimalist Wannabe says

    Politicians need to know what the people think…
    That said, I think this is the wrong forum for this message.
    That’s why it is bringing dissidence amongst us, instead of inspiring us.

  13. La says

    We need to stop ignoring the fact that mental illness IS a real “Illness” and needs the resources and attention that physical illnesses get.

  14. Berick says

    Less violence? Certainly.
    Unity? No. “We” never were united and shouldn’t be. When that means we all must agree, or that we must disagree so politely that we don’t criticize the other opinions, then you’re talking dictatorship not democracy.

    • JH says

      You can disagree with someone and still work with them to find a place of common ground, of unity. The founding fathers did it, it’s why this country works.

      What is happening now, though, is not going to work forever. This antagonism is going to more surely destroy our country than make it work. We are a united states of america. And we can have different ideas while still having respect for each other.

  15. Anna D. says

    “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
    Why is this concept so hard? Thanks for staying relevant Joshua.

  16. Debbie says

    Well said! I’m not from the US (I’m Northern Irish!!) but I would say those principles apply to all (SANE) people everywhere! What a different world we could live in if we all even lived half of those!

  17. says

    I was in Africa when the shooting occurred Josh, and pretty much “off the grid”, so am just now digesting it. My time in Africa, visiting water projects our church has done, and investigating partnerships with pastors there to further better the lives of Africans, has reminded me of just how important this post is. Candidates for office have their heads cut off over there. There are wars over ‘elections’, and things are so polarized and unstable that there’s a sense things could topple at any time. Your plea, therefore, is much needed, and I for one applaud your courage in calling us to unity. Motion seconded.

  18. kj says

    I totally agree with the need for unity, but not amongst politicians and leaders. Like one commenter above said, this country has never been united; It has always been government by the rich to protect their money and to ensure that the other 9/10 of the country is kept at bay. There have been periods in American history when the people have been less ignorant of this fact, but I believe that this is one of the most ignorant periods in American history with regard to the general public.
    We are the ones who have to unite. We have to educate ourselves and others that politicians are not, for the most part, working for us. We have to realize that as many differences as we all have, we are all so much more similar than we are to any of them–most of us just want to be able to support ourselves reasonably, make our own decisions, and live peacefully among other things.
    They play us against each other, “patriots” vs. immigrants, religious people vs. gays, whites vs. non whites etc, and they pick hot button topics like abortion, gay marriage, immigration, gun laws to make us fight with each other. Its all a game so that we don’t have time to see what they are really doing–passing laws to keep us all in our places while their corporate interests are treated like more important citizens than each of us.
    Democrats and Republicans are already united enough, The important movement towards unity needs to come from the people.

  19. tony says

    We need to help the mentally ill people. We will always be divided. Spirited debates and freedom of speech is what this nation is built on, not personal attacks or stating untrue facts about people we opposed.

  20. says

    a sad event that hopefully does not lead to preemptive prosecution. i caught sixty minutes at a friends house last night (flip-flop guy doesn’t only a tele) and the discussion was basically about how to stop such an attack. i don’t think you can but every such event gives the government another excuse to take freedom away from the people. many people talk of stuff as this kid did but are harmless and would never commit such an act. i only hope, free speech, gun ownership, and freedom is not affected by such events. so not ultra-cool.

    flip-flop guy

  21. Annabelle says

    Ok, so what action do we take?

    We are U.S. military living in a European country full of people who don’t like us, who don’t want us here; who are rude and complain. So what do we do? We’re here to promote peace, and getting slammed for it with threats and law suits.

    What’s the answer? It happens all over the world. What’s the answer?

  22. says

    Well said Joshua! Patience, understanding, forgiveness, compassion.

    Political leaders, religious leaders, and the media must acknowledge and take responsibility for the power of their influence over mankind. The benefit of all mankind must be their primary motivation in what they say or do.

    We as individuals must acknowledge that it is our responsibility NOT to allow political leaders, religious leaders and/or the media to interfere with our peace of mind, to instill fear, hatred, feelings that we are lacking all that we deserve, as it determines the attitude that we have towards the rest of the world. We must look beyond ourselves.

  23. says

    Exactly why we are reading posts like this are politicians. Is there such a thing as clean politics? But your reader says there are insane people!

  24. Gerald Landis says

    We can learn from a 5 year old, a 15 year old, a 25 year old or anyone much older.

    Politicians have a power crisis in their “heads” as they swell up with pride. Not everyone of
    course but it is a known illness.

    Someone said “Dr. Martin Luther King” said this, “There is plenty of room for servants…”
    A servant has to serve and pretend “he or she has no rights or powerful ambitions. Our need
    is for servant leaders.

    Wish we all could get back to the kindergarten of life and really live.

    Blessings.

  25. tammy rodie says

    AMEN to what you said. I live in PHX, AZ just 2 hours away and I feel like it is right at my home with this Heartache.
    I am NEW to the Minimalism and I am following the Minimalists and Nina, I also believe YOU NEED TO BE ONE TO FOLLOW. Three is enough.
    Keep those encouraging words a going. People like ME NEED THEM.

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