(Full disclosure: I am completely guilty of everything I talk about in this. This was as much for me as anyone else.)
We all have opinions. Some are right. Some are wrong. Some are just opinions.
Let me tell you straight away: you cannot and will not agree with everyone about anything, nor can you agree with one person about everything, and no matter how much effort you put into it, you cannot make everyone listen. But the important thing is that you try. Hopefully, what you’re fighting for is worth it, is to better the world around you; and you’re going about it in such a way that encourages people to listen.
Words have meaning you guys, and we are fortunate enough to live in a country with the freedom to use those words however we please. Which, unfortunately, many people take to mean they can (and will) say whatever they please, bulldozing over anyone who may oppose them, never looking back to see the trail of brokenness in their wake.
Now, we were made to have our own views, to choose who we want to be, what legacy we want to leave. And I am all for that. I believe every person has a right to their opinion and the right to discuss and inform others of that opinion. Do you know the difference between an argument and a debate? I’m not Webster’s, but the way I see it, a debate is a conversation in which you can hopefully educated the other person on your view, and in turn begin to better understand theirs. Debate implies mutual respect and willingness to hear about another person’s point of view. We are so quick to judge without know the facts, the background. You will encounter all sorts of people in this world and you have no way of knowing what they’ve been through, but I implore you to try. Try to understand before you write them off as incompetent, or ignorant, or *insert your favorite adjective*. In contrast, an argument serves no real purpose. There is no possible ending that favors either party. It’s more about who can yell the loudest and make the other feel inferior.
Can I offer a piece of advice?
Never NEVER dehumanize your opponent. By insulting, demeaning, and undermining them, in an attempt to demonstrate their “incorrectness”, the only person you make look bad is you. Anyone can insult someone they disagree with; it takes an intelligent person to be able to support their own views with evidence and logic. In dehumanization of an opponent, it is makes it easier for us to live in our “rightness” and think about how ignorant they must be not to see the “light”. To believe that your opinion is more important than the person you just shut down.
Nowadays, it’s easy to forget that because we can hide behind screens and forget that there are humans on the other sides of social media. Words are powerful, they carry weight, and I would ask you to really think about things that you put out for the whole world to read, things you say on a daily basis, the complaints you make about people you don’t want to understand. We want to see change for the better, and that starts with ideas. Miscommunication is so common, especially over the internet, keep that in mind. You want people to listen to you? Listen to them.
The one thing I would say to think about, if nothing else: your audience is made up of people. Individuals that just want respect, the same way you do. If we really thought about the golden rule on a daily basis, how different things would be.
They’re people too.
*Photo is of Abstinecia (Politica) by Yoan Capote on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachussettes. I encourage you to research the work.