You’ve heard it before—the federal government has shut down. Operations at the core of the United States government have halted, and 800,000 of its employees have been sent home. Though the shutdown has complex and far-reaching effects, its origin is relatively simple: a lack of respect for the opposing party.
Speaker John Boehner has not allowed the House of Representatives to vote on any bill to extend the budget and to keep the government open that did not also include limiting or eliminating the funding of the Affordable Care Act. The refusal to allow a simple vote on a clean budget bill demonstrates that the GOP is more focused on its own desires than supporting the common good of the nation. Closing the government hurts people of both political parties, making the partisanship over the issue especially immature and irrational. At press time, the two parties were still refusing to listen to each other or consider opposing beliefs.
Although the issues within the government may seem removed and complicated for the students of South, these issues are fundamentally based on communication and collaboration skills, which all of you are practicing right now. Whether you are working with other students for a project, interacting with teachers to understand course material, or even talking to family and friends, communication forms the foundation of any and every action.
High school is an ideal time to develop this skill. With both the freedom to make decisions and the responsibility to act as leaders, students face situations in which effective communication can facilitate well-organized class projects, successful club initiatives, winning sports seasons, and overall rewarding relationships.
An important aspect of effective communication is exploring opposing beliefs. Rather than impeding progress, considering contrasting opinions provides a more balanced perspective on any situation. House Republicans were too focused on derailing the Affordable Care Act to consider anything but their own goals; however, if you genuinely consider alternatives to your own opinions, you might understand the complexity of the concerned issue more fully.
Voicing your own opinions with clarity is also essential for successful communication. Be forthright with your beliefs, and try to balance being assertive with being respectful and receptive to new ideas.
Above all, actively try to collaborate. When students—and politicians—forget that they are working towards a common goal, deadlock is inevitable.