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The bird has the word in political debate

These are particularly polarizing times. Some of the folks who are invested in the U.S. presidential primaries are picking sides in an O.K. Corral sort of way — reason and civility be damned — and it’s getting ugly.

Protesters at campaign rallies are getting punched in the face. Grown men are fighting on the debate stage over whose hands are smaller and whose are larger (wink, wink). Longtime friends are “unfollowing” each other on Facebook because they can’t stomach each other’s choices in the upcoming general election.

Has there been a time when the national political dialogue was this aggressive or adversarial? If so, it’s hard to recall.

When Barack Obama ran on a “hope and change” platform in 2008, plenty of people denounced him as a dangerous, pie-in-the-sky liberal — but there was no violence in the streets. (Well, James Carville suggested there’d be riots if Obama won, just like Donald Trump has suggested there’ll be riots if the GOP is forced to hold a brokered convention in Cleveland. So perhaps there are a few similarities.)

But really, does it have to be this way? Why can’t we all just get along, or at the very least, put a stop to all the name-calling as an extension of candidate-bashing?

No matter how much we might want to shove folks into tidy (but one-dimensional) boxes, such as Climate Deniers vs. Climate Changers, Capitalists vs. Socialists, or Gun Nuts vs. Peaceniks, each of us is more complex than that. We are products of our upbringings, our experiences and our outlooks, peering through individual life lenses which — like a kaleidoscope — are made of many colors and shapes that tumble and turn with the times.

Nasty, go-for-the-jugular social media posts that not only attack a candidate but malign whole groups of his or her supporters only blunt intelligent conversation. Perhaps a bit of personal reflection will convince folks to abstain from the finger-pointing fray. Let’s hope it’s so.

We paid close attention when a house finch landed on the lectern as Bernie Sanders addressed a large crowd inside Portland’s Moda Center last Friday, as if by magic or force of nature. Perhaps it was a sign of positive things to come.

Who will we choose on Nov. 8 to lead our nation to a better day for all the people, not just the loudest few on each end of a charged-up spectrum? That remains to be seen. But above it all flies a prophetic bird, and the bird has the word, and that word is peace.