Today is a gloomy day for Poland. Paweł Adamowicz, mayor of Gdańsk, died after being stabbed on stage of a nationwide charity event.
There are no words to describe this kind of a tragedy. We are all shocked, devastated, and heartbroken that this is the world that we live in.
Anger is raising in many broken hearts today, and rightly so. There’s no place for murder in political debate, and we need to make sure the murderer won’t harm anyone again. We need to protect ourselves from other violent criminals who kill or hurt people in the name of whatever they have in their heads.
However, we need to be careful. Especially in this distressing moment we need to resist the temptation to assign blame and guilt along the lines of partisan divide.
No matter what the murderer himself might say, this is not a political issue. No sane person would wish anyone death, or think what has happened is right. We might have different views about almost everything, but as long as you’re willing to debate them peacefully and with respect, you are on our side.
This is not the case of one political party versus the other. This is the case of people who reject violence as a means of solving problems standing peacefully against it–together.
This is not the time to discuss which political party is to blame for what has happened. It’s time for all the sane, caring people, from all backgrounds and all walks of life to sit down together and make sure it doesn’t happen again. We need to learn to talk about the differences between us in a civilized way. We need to learn to respect our political opponents, no matter how much they disagree with us. We need to learn to compromise.
We’re not used to this way of thinking. To seek compromise is often perceived as treason, or suspicious at least. But we don’t have a choice. Either we will all learn how to talk to each other, or we will all self-destruct.
In Poland we often think we’re exceptionally divided, but this could have happened anywhere. With the social media reducing political discourse to bite-sized nuggets of outrage, we all seem to have forgotten that there are real human beings on the other side of the fence, with real feelings and all the best intentions in their hearts.
Nearly everyone has the best intentions. Nearly everyone believes what they’re doing serves the greater good. We don’t usually agree on the details, but that’s not a problem. The real problem is that we seem to think everyone must always agree on everything, and people who don’t are either misled or evil.
We don’t yet have the tools to talk about our differences in a civilized way. It’s not something people would learn at school, and the internet doesn’t help. But we can do better. There are excellent books like The Righteous Mind that can help as a start. Our tribal instincts have been hacked and exploited by media monetizing our attention, but this doesn’t mean that we are doomed forever.
This is a wakeup call. Either we do something, or we’re all gonna kill ourselves. We’re all in this together.