Stop snorting and respect other views
By Amee Bohrer September 5, 2012 11:22PM
Updated: October 9, 2012 2:16PM
One of my best friends and I stopped talking for a year because of a political argument. And that’s scary, because we have more than 10 years of history together.
It’s a frighteningly common scenario, especially with the influx of people who now conduct the majority of their communication by social media or text message. We say things we would never say in person, and forget that people we care about are receiving those messages.
I learned the hard way that sometimes we need to back off and think about what we’re saying, and agree to disagree, especially on social media, where it’s public, and others can fuel the fire. You can delete a comment or status, but not erase the memory of how it made someone feel, especially since most peoples’ political beliefs are defined not by facts, but by life experiences and cultural upbringing.
Our grief and outrage are genuine when our candidates and party suffer a setback, because the outcome defines the laws of our country and can threaten our freedom.
Blindly attacking a person’s beliefs only comes off as disrespectful and often insults their core morality. We gain everything by listening to someone with different beliefs rather than attacking their logic or facts.
Ask why they hold those beliefs, and stop burying them in data and opinions.
The reporter in me gets a kick out of interviewing people. That’s why I was attracted to journalism; it forces you to get comfortable approaching people, and get along with them. Otherwise, no one trusts you and you never get your story.
With politics, the real story lies not in proving someone wrong, but in getting to know them through discussing those hot-button issues. Find out why a particular issue is so vital to them. Maybe then, you can enrich another’s perspective or have a chance to change their mind.
I enjoy respectful debate, but will not throw down with someone who has a closed mind and merely wants to repeat the same information: that I’m wrong because they’re right.
I’ve been guilty of hammering a point when my emotions flare over issues that are the most vital to me. And it’s still a challenge, but at least I’m aware of it.
But with the aggressive momentum of the 2012 General Election campaign in its final stretch, we all need to work harder to communicate with respect.
Avoiding political conversations all together is not a practical solution, since we all have a lot to learn from each other.
Yet, we continue to charge full speed like the stampeding elephants and immobile donkeys representing the respective parties comprising the two major candidates on the November ballot.
Nobody wants to talk anymore, but we all have something to say.
Let’s quit snorting like political animals and start talking like people with a brain.
Email Amee Bohrer