Do we live in such an angry world? Are things spiraling downward into chaos, a world where people cannot discuss or tolerate anyone who is different? Sometimes I think this is the case. People are bickering at alarming levels at political rallies and debates. Mobs of people are marching for various protests, and come into conflict with those of another stance. Name calling and sometime physical altercations may ensue. Are people just getting angrier than ever before? Watching commentaries on news editorial programs, and you can see people descending into juvenile and small minded thinking. Sometimes I think we are just getting angrier and more intolerant.
Actually, I have an example from my own experience. I have many views of the world and how I would like for things to be. This blog is not political, nor will I condone or promote overly political views on here. I do factor in many things in my opinions, ranging from personal experience to information gathered from many reputable sources.
One news story caught my eye as I was browsing my news feed. Two people, a man and a woman, worked with organizations striving to create constitutional amendments that define marriage to be only between a man and a woman. This topic is not near and dear to my heart, and generally take a “do whatever makes you happy” mindset. These two people, attempting to limit the institution of marriage for groups of people, were having an affair with each other. To be activists for marriage, yet not adhering to their own marital obligations, struck me as very hypocritical.
I broke from my own reservations about posting comments on political stories, and typed in something that was critical of these two for being hypocrites. Some comments I received were actually from those with similar stances, who didn’t read the article and was blasting me for a stance that supported these people. In this cases, I posted comments stating that I agreed with them, and name calling was not warranted. I received comments from those who actually support the amendment to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, that were harsh and personal attacks. I received comments that said I was not smart (to put in nicely), I was immoral, and in some cases were simply personal attacks with an abundant amounts of profanity.
I would say two lessons were learned from this experience. First, never assume people will read an article before jumping to making comments. NPR tested this out on Facebook about a year ago. They titled an article with a hot button topic, which I cannot remember, but the actual article was something completely different and not divisive. Yet the comments began to fire off between online users, who obviously did not open, much less read, the article. Various name calling and personal attacks were firing on all cylinders. Second, assume that online people who disagree with your stance on any given subject to attack you personally. These people will most likely call you names, and hurl insults without knowing who you are.
Now, I don’t care what people think of me. I try to do the best I can, and always strive to learn new things. I do consider myself a well-rounded person, and believe in a live and let live way of life. But sometimes I wonder if things are slowly degenerating towards being less civilized to each other.
What can we do? Can we many a difference? Yes we can.
Everyone is deserving of respect, at least until they prove to you that it’s not warranted. You have no knowledge of their history, their character, or their heart from simply looking at the car they drive, whether they have a job, or what kind of house they have. You have no idea their story. Were they dealt a personal setback for which they never could recover? Is there some medical story that can account for their current situation?
To respect someone is the first step for a better and friendlier society. It doesn’t matter what their sexual preference may be, or what political stance they have. Different minds are simply different. I’ve seen far too many people, and unfortunately know a few, they will judge based on whether or not they are in alignment with their political beliefs. They believe they are right, and those who disagree are wrong. In this black and white mindset, respect is lost, and divisiveness grows. Believe what you will, and while you can quietly judge them, it doesn’t mean you cannot be civil and friendly.
Learn all you can about culture and history. Very few people have the complete picture of any story or belief. You may know of certain things, but learn more. Build a more complete and more encompassing context. There are always new things waiting to be discovered. Perhaps through this exploration of learning, your life may be enriched.
The more someone knows about both sides of any given political stance, or cultural experience, the better off everyone is. Learn and grow every day. This growth will lead to more enlightenment and tolerance.
Put yourself in someones shoes. What’s it like to walk a mile in their life. Don’t pass judgment on them and not know or understand what they do. I’ve seen so many simply glance at someone and think they know the full story. Every situation is unique and different.
Do not label or use stereotypes. It may be easy to make a snap judgment on someone based on what you may see. Even if they are different, or from another culture, take a moment to think what it’s like for them. On the playground, or at work, bullying someone may be easy, but take a moment and put yourself in their shoes. Always take a moment to think about others, and put yourself in their shoes to try to help understand where they’re coming from.
Can we make a difference? Someone doesn’t have to be a leader, or head of a large company or organization to make a difference. Each of us can make a difference in our own life. Smile at someone, and it may provide a lift to their spirits. Help someone out who may need it, as they may one day help you. Try to understand someone who is different. We will grow into a more civil and enlightened society though understanding each other more. If we continue to hold onto preconceived notions of how we want things to be, we’ll continue to grow the angry society. If someone disagrees with you, try to understand why, but respect their choice. Sometimes things will be different and there may be no middle ground for a debated topic, and that’s perfectly fine.
Maybe one day we all can read a political article and post a comment without facing a backlash of personal attacks or insults. Maybe one day…