Lets Talk About Respect

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Hello,

It has come to my attention, and I’m sure yours as well, that a lot of important political/social issues are unraveling here in the United States.

Now I am not here to debate politics with everyone. This post in not about my political or social opinion. Nor am I referencing any particular issue or reaction to an issue. I would just like to talk about something that has caught my interest, and not in a positive way.

I have noticed a trend among both my conservative and liberal friends in all of my feeds regarding these important political/social issues that are spreading throughout the United States.

This is a trend of unbending opinions and hateful retaliations towards others who don’t have the exact same viewpoint.

I am not naive. I don’t believe that everyone should sit around a campfire singing a song together, nor do I believe that everyone should have to agree with everyone else’s opinion.

The issue that I am bringing forth is the lack of respect on BOTH SIDES. I’d like to be clear that this doesn’t apply to everyone. However, it is the majority of people that are filling up my Facebook (yes, I am on Facebook, yes, I know it makes me “old” to some of you) and Twitter feeds.

I would like to hit a few key points:

(1) I believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
(2) You do not have to like someone’s opinion, or agree with it. BUT YOU MUST respect that person and their right to voice their opinion.
(3) Compromise is an important part of life.

In regards to the first point, it is protected by the United States Constitution. It’s called Freedom of Speech.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

-First Amendment, United States Constitution

This was meant to protect citizen’s voices and their right to speak. People have a right to their opinions. Being allowed to have their own opinion and having the ability to express it is something that people have fought and died for. It is a right that not everyone on this planet has. That being said, it is often taken for granted or overlooked when someone doesn’t like an opinion that is being expressed.

Too many times over this last couple of weeks I have seen people torn apart for voicing their opinions. The hatefulness directed toward these people is horrible and extreme, which brings me to my next point.

You don’t have to agree with someone’s opinion to be respectful to that person.

I’m not sure how or when it started to occur, but when someone’s opinion goes against a majority opinion, that person is vilified. This happens on a daily basis. People are constantly torn down for their opinion and for expressing their opinions. People are afraid to say what they think in fear of being labeled or stereotyped.

You can respect a person without agreeing with their opinion. People did it for thousands of years. I daily come across people whose opinions I don’t quite agree with. Conflict is part of life. However, I can have respectful debates with these people, and I am willing to step away from my own position to see their side of it. I may not agree with someone’s opinion, but I respect their right to have it.

And finally, compromise is an essential part of life. We use it everyday, and not just in matters of politics. We use it in our professional lives and in our personal lives. Learning how to compromise is an important skill to have and one that will benefit you for the rest of your life.

Some people that read this might wonder what business I have voicing my thoughts on these matters. They may wonder why this even bothers me, or why I felt the need to write all of this out?

On a basic human level, this conflict affects me deeply. We are one people; one species. It bothers me that we can not find it within ourselves to deal with each other in a respectful and mature way.

As a writer, I have an obligation to comment on what I see in the outside world because it affects all of us. Freedom of expression is extremely important to me as a person and a writer. Everyone has the right to express themselves (so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others).

Closing Comments

It is not always easy to act in a respectful manner towards people whose opinions and beliefs strongly contradict with our own. However, we must learn to treat everyone we meet with respect. This is the only way for us to continue coexisting. People whose opinions differ from ours are not wrong, because an opinion can not be right or wrong. It is simply an opinion. Sometimes these are the best people with whom to surround yourself. These people will challenge you and help you in life. I know that sounds backwards. How can people whose opinions differ from ours help us with our own beliefs? People with different opinions allow us to fully explore our own opinion.

Also, taking the time to talk with someone who has a different opinion allows you to ask questions. Perhaps they or yourself haven’t fully thought out their/your stance on a matter. Being able to talk things out allows both sides to see where they align and where they contradict. Maybe after a healthy discussion, you can agree on some points.

Just because people disagree on a particular social/political issue doesn’t mean that they won’t agree on other things. Please remember that these social/political issues shouldn’t cause the divide that is currently happening within the US.

We must learn to respect people and their opinions in order to continue moving forward on these controversial issues.

Let me know what you think about the issue. Please comment below.

Thank you for your time,

-GW

One thought on “Lets Talk About Respect

    Julie Holloway said:
    July 20, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    I think you have some very valid points and I myself have also noticed an increased dissension between people in what was called the “United” States of America. I’ve seen some posts that says “everyone for themselves” which greatly disturbs me. What about “United we stand, divided we fall”? I also agree with listening to someone’s opinions, you don’t have to agree with it, but you should be able to agree to disagree, does that seem so impossible? I think a lot of the dissection comes from much of the discussion being held between two people that don’t know each other, they are just faceless people on the Internet, would they say the same thing in person? Many times I think not. I believe we are at our best as a country when outsiders take up a fight with us, much like a family does – you can pick on your family, but someone else had better not!!

    I may not agree with some changes that have taken place in this country that I agree with, however rather than jump into the discussion and heated debates, I just keep my thoughts to myself and keep my stress level low. I’ve had to stay away from social media at times because of what people are discussing that I do not agree with. My opinion is not always right, but I don’t always feel the need to air it either. I do believe some people think they need to put all of their beliefs on social media day in and day out – I don’t feel so inclined maybe because I’m more introverted?

    Bottom line – I do hope things improve before there is a serious rift that can’t be repaired without bloodshed. I’m still proud to be part of this country, I hope my kids, my grandkids and my great, great grandkids can say the same thing.

    Thanks for your thoughts and asking for others to add to your column.

    Like

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