Gee: How should we really handle the political divisions among us?
Yet another crazy chain of events pushed half the people on one side of an issue, and the other half on another side. We heard about drums, hats, Kentucky, and people calling themselves “Hebrew Israelites.” And then just when I thought we had seen it all — wait, there was more.
Next thing you knew people started gathering, as they often do, on either side of an imaginary line called “who was at fault?” I couldn’t help but think, “Here we go again.”
Personally, I liked it a lot better when we argued over whether a dress was blue or white. As a kid, I saw Miller beer ads asking people to decide if it was “less filling” or if it “tasted great?” We used to argue over Coke versus Pepsi. You know, fun stuff.
What’s next? Are we going to argue which side of a coin is better? Heads or tails?
So, all this division has me wondering. There have to be some things that we all agree on, right? OK, maybe that is a bit ambitious. Are there things most of us agree on?
I am pretty convinced I have a few special fans out there that no matter what I write, they are going to be in the comments below, with their fake names, taking a 180-degree position on just about everything. I should probably thank them, because each time they chime in with their anonymous arguments of random hate, it bumps my articles up a bit. I’ve had my friends tell me that they enjoy my articles, but they are just there to read the comments. Perhaps that is the world we live in today.
But here’s the question I am asking everyone this week: Why are we dividing ourselves from people we would ordinarily get along with? And for what?
For me, some issues aren’t negotiable. So I am going to be fair here and assume every one of us has those issues. If someone goes with a hard opinion against one of my non-negotiable issues, then there’s really no reason for us to talk, do business with each other, etc. I’ve even tried to stop battling with these people and just click them away with an”unfollow” here, “unfriend” there, or an all out “block.”
What happens with all the other people out there, though, who we might disagree with on a particular policy or opinion, but we agree on pretty much everything else?
I’ve found that I am am more likely to influence a person to change their mind by showing them how much we already have in common. More so than shunning them for having their own opinion on a single issue. I have to admit, it is tough sometimes because the fire in me to teach people just how wrong they are burns hotter than my coat of common sense. But I often remind myself: “Gee, you’ve got two boys looking at you for ideas on how they are going to act as grown men.” That thought puts the way I react to different opinions in perspective.
Don’t get me wrong. If someone goes there about my boys, that “fire” I mentioned burns at a level we can’t measure. But I still owe it to them to stay focused and not let myself act in ways that are contrary to everything I have tried to teach them since they were born.
So as we figure out whatever the next thing to fight about is, I want to challenge everyone to try something this coming week.
Before you start a keyboard battle with someone who posts something ignorant, ask yourself “what do I have in common with this person?” Establishing a common ground and several areas of common interest or concern can go a long way if you wish to invest the energy to teach someone that their opinion is wrong.
Or maybe you don’t have much in common at all. Is it still worth saying nasty things to each other as people watch? Remember, people are watching. And some of those people are going to act like you act when they are faced with the same situation.
I will leave today with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
How do you handle disagreement? What tools do you use to discuss differing opinions at home, work, or even on social media. Please share your stories in the comments below.