Can a person be themselves without extreme criticism in 2018? I just viewed tweets being exchanged about our government officials by news anchors, comedians and some people that host late night shows. I cannot remember a time in my fifty-seven years of being alive of either hearing or reading the things I have witnessed in the last week. There is a point when we must stop and say “Can we disagree and not make it personal?” Can we reverse the trend and start treating each other with respect?
Social media is a reflection of how people think and feel. It is frankly scary the way information is being disseminated on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. By the way, kids are watching and learning from this forum of information. I am not an alarmist, some information on these platforms do just credit to the people they represent. Still, the trend appears to slant towards a lack of respect for other’s thoughts if it does not align perfectly with their own ideology. So, when differences cannot be supported by facts many times the conversation takes a downward spiral. In my blog Listen.Think.Act this is a process I desire to see implemented in our societal interactions. Again, every generation is alarmed by trends that appear to be detrimental. There is just something very disturbing when human beings no longer value differences in people’s way of thinking and lifestyle. Is Social Media promoting the acceptance of others differences? Not to a satisfactory level, I am afraid.
I stay away from partisan politics in my blog like it was a plague. I cannot avoid addressing a part of this subject in a germane fashion. Society is changing in the way it addresses many issues. The new generations always bring a changing of the guard while the older generation cries with nostalgia for the “Good old days”. If you want a division in people, politics and religion is the path to take. I used to teach a class in a church years ago and it was a 30 something group. I would ask the group if they thought differently that day then they did at age 21. I would always get a rousing “Oh yea”. I would follow up with the question, were they right that day or when they were 21? This is a double-edged question. The consensus is probably, most people gain wisdom with age. The second question is do we pick up the baggage of biases and prejudices along the way? I am going to leave that subject for a future blog. Suffice to say, we constantly must re-evaluate the way we think. The politics of old may look different than today’s refreshed version. Allow people to be different without being wrong. It is not a requirement to agree with people but this aggressiveness we see in our divisions will only serve to further divide people while offering very few solutions to the problems we face. I will end this point with a quote I like:
“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
The last thing I will talk about is the art of compromise. Compromise is defined as “An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions”. The hardest part of concessions is thinking the other person is not meeting you halfway. The question is halfway to what? Is it halfway to the decision you want to see? When we weigh things on the scale of importance; you cannot have all items weigh the same. You have to pick a priority and give in other areas of the discussion. A person must also consider the possibility that the opinion they hold could be wrong. Not every matter can be resolved in five minutes, sometimes it takes a series of talks in which all parties involved are willing to change if enough sage advice is presented. Your willingness to concede some points does not make you weak, it will eventually make you wise. Other times we just have to agree to disagree and part on amicable terms. A great example of this is grandparents; they learn over the years to temper their energy to things that need attention and let other things go. In other words, they do not allow everything to be a tragedy. They have learned as the old quote says “To pick your battles”. Oh, if we could all be like grandparents when it comes to politics and religion.
Can we disagree and not make it personal? Of course, we can. There are many things we differ on, food, music, movies, and the cars we like just to name a few. The problem is with subjects that polarize our society. Too many years of this “Us against them” mentality and soon we find our selves gridlocked on an item with no one wanting to move an inch. If we are waiting for others to change the way they address an issue it might be a long wait. You must learn to be above petty arguments and trading insults. Behaviors are changed by those humble enough and willing to concede on things that really do not matter. Can we disagree with each other and still be friends and respect one another’s opinion. I think we can. Who is willing to make the first concession?