Humankind has always struggled to understand each other — whether it be over racial, gender or nationality issues. Every generation makes up for the previous generation's flaws, but most of the time comes with its own.
At a point in our country's history where there are not many major elections coming up to unmask the divide, I reflected upon the 2020 election when it was prevalent. With the disputes of Black Lives Matter and police brutality being front and center of the debates, there were many other problems shoved under the rug. One group's alienation that I believe heavily links to the bigger problem is the coal miners across the country.
Our country looks to become increasingly eco-friendly amid more scientific findings, leading us to push toward a shift for electric vehicles and clean energy. Amid this shift, there are thousands of workers in the energy industry whose jobs are in jeopardy. Most of these people spend their days working, which gives them little time to look for job mobility or even spend adequate time reading the news or with their families.
With plans like the Green New Deal and the constant villainization of individuals in the industry, many workers became fed up. As mentioned earlier, each generation lacks understanding for certain groups of people, and I believe coal miners fall into the buckets of traditionalists (Conservatives) who are publicly shamed in our country.
To be frank, I am someone who probably agrees very little with Conservatives, but that should not stop me from understanding their perspective. As a coal miner, you might provide the sole income that brings food to your family's table every night and allows them to live a stable lifestyle.
The possibility of losing their job without another as a replacement could lead to hardships for their family, which holds more weight than protecting the environment for future generations. In any situation, having a standard of comfort within the present is much more important than preserving the future, which is how many coal miners view the issue.
Regardless of whether you believe in their views, no one has a place in invalidating their opportunity to voice them. Progressive individuals had to hide in the shadows throughout history due to fear of consequences but now the dynamic has changed.
Ironically, I have seen the issue in full force within Rutgers itself, not too far from my dorm hall. Last semester, the Rutgers Turning Point USA chapter hosted a "No Masks Rally" protest, which led to jeering from the crowd and antagonizing those who put their voices and opinions on that stage.
As someone who believes in wearing a mask and currently is sitting in my dorm lounge writing this piece, I must disagree with their perspective. Though, I would not overpower their voices like the crowd did that afternoon.
In the process of understanding, I believe people miss the fact that no opinion can be ignored to reach common ground because it is not common if the viewpoint is too narrow.
On a larger scale, let us look at the mob of former President Donald J. Trump supporters invading the White House. While misinformation from the former president may have significantly played a role in the event transpiring, it also had resulted from years of overshadowing the voices of America's minority.
By no means am I justifying or providing an excuse for any of the protesters' actions, which I wholeheartedly believe should result in jail time. Instead, I am pointing out a significant factor to the event that is ignored.
Through it all, I have realized society fails to embody genuine empathy. Many of us are empathetic with whom we share ideas but the complete opposite to those who do not. Being empathetic does not mean you agree with them, but it means you are listening to them.
The beauty of our country is that we have the freedom to hold multiple perspectives. Let us not throw it away because we cannot seem to keep an ear open for the person next to us. We can start by hearing the voices of the coal miners and fellow Rutgers students in pursuit of moving forward together.
Akhil Dwasari is a Rutgers Business School sophomore majoring in finance and minoring in political science. His column, "Cut the Bull," runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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