Lawmakers are grappling to reestablish ethics in the age of “alternative facts.” In a recent lecture to Northern Illinois University law students, Illinois State Senator and NIU alumna Toi Hutchinson warned against being so rigid in your positions that you cannot empathize with other perspectives.
“Democracy requires participation. Citizenship requires participation,” Hutchinson said. “If we make it so that nobody wants to touch this with a ten foot pole, then we’re cheating ourselves. We do much better when we’re all in, so we all need to be in.”
Hutchinson says that a healthy democracy requires a conscious effort by both politicians and the public to continue conversations from an honest perspective despite disagreements.
“It’s very easy for all of us to stay in our own bubbles, and so the biggest thing I would tell any constituent now is listen to some of what the other side is saying,” Hutchinson said. “It’s much easier for us to stay only listening to people who agree with us, talk like us and reinforce what we already know. We are never going to stop being so angry and divided until we start listening to each other on either side.”
Hutchinson says an uneducated, uninformed electorate is dangerous because “you can be really angry at things you don’t understand.”
Hutchinson was elected State Senator of the 40th District in 2009. She represents Chicago Heights.