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Letter: The litmus tests I use to bridge the partisan gap

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Supporters of President Trump, left, fight with a counterprotester, center right, at the Oregon State Capitol building Saturday, Nov 7, 2020, in Salem, Ore.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

I am brokenhearted to see the divisions now in America. Never Trumpers in a frenzy. Anti-Bidens likewise. Both sides claim that truth cannot be found, except through them. Anyone who disagrees is both blind and evil. In my effort to bridge these gaps, I use several litmus tests, each restatements of the others.

First, anyone who insists their opponent is lying and that their opponent knows they are lying is probably not truthful to themselves. The proponents on both sides usually believe what they are saying, even when I find it noncredible.

A second litmus test for me: Do I believe that an issue is all right or all wrong, black or white, like a toggle switch? Or do I see the world with shades of gray, as a continuum? My experience teaches me that political issues more often appear on a continuum.

Another helpful restatement: Are my political ideas becoming a second religious faith? Instead of discussing politics, am I bearing my testimony and calling to repentance? I sometimes do that. The neurochemicals eventually subside, but not soon enough.

My fourth litmus test is whether I am seeking news, opinion and truth from contrasting sources. Unless I am investigating sources with which I am uncomfortable, my growth is shallow.

My last litmus test is to compare what I am seeing to a reliable bellwether — a newspaper or trusted institution which has a long-term history of reliability and ability to correct course when wrong.

These litmus tests permit me to see that the fringes are seldom where most truth lies. When I am violating these litmus tests, I am part of the fringe.

Kerry Soelberg

West Jordan