One thing I’ve noticed over the past few months is how little most people seem to be able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes when it comes to politics and other differing viewpoints.
I was raised to be very open minded and as I grew up developed the opinion that everyone has the right to his or her opinion, even if I totally disagree with said opinion. I think most people these days have this viewpoint, but I also think it’s harder in practice than theory.
This election will be the first one I am eligible to vote in and a big thing I have noticed is people don’t always seem to want to listen to the other side. I notice this a lot in general, as well. People like to voice their opinions and then shut down or defend them with their dying breath.
Don’t get me wrong, I think you should stand up for what you believe in, but I also think there is value in understanding why other people believe differently.
I have a very good friend with whom I strongly disagree with on nearly every political topic. We were raised in very different religions, almost opposite ends of the spectrum, disagree on the abortion issue, on marriage, government, you name it and we have probably had a long discussion about it over hot chocolate and tea.
But these discussions are never disrespectful in any way, and often contain lots of laughter and understanding. We always treat the other person’s opinion as valid and really try to understand why the other holds that opinion.
It’s probably one of the most rewarding friendships I have, not because we disagree sometimes, but because we didn’t let that get in the way of an awesome friendship born through a love of music.
She has never pushed me to change my views, and I have treated her with that same respect. Through this lens of “let’s have an honest conversation,” I think I have really grown.
I think the big thing missing in our country’s ongoing political debates, is genuine respect and understanding. When you have a population of over 300 million people, odds are you’re not going to agree with all of them.
I don’t expect everyone to just go and make friends you disagree with, but I do think there is real value in at least trying to understand someone else’s point of view.
I’m not saying this will solve all our problems, but I do think as fellow humans on this Earth we owe each other some respect and understanding. I think it’s possible to stand up for what you believe in while doing it respectfully and allowing others to do the same.