Ok. I get it. We are largely polarized in Western Culture at the moment. And we all have our reasons. Some because we are educated, some because we are not educated, some because we are merely educated differently, some because we are among those who have earned the right to teach, some because experience has taught us. And some, because we are just plain scared. This applies to all areas of thought, and all strains of thought process. Every single one of us views the world through our own lens. Each person has their own convictions and rationale pertaining to belief. None of us, no matter how much we would love to claim it, came to our conclusions in an entirely unbiased, or uninfluenced bubble. And many of us are free with our thoughts.
The trouble is, all of this shows, and we have forgotten we are human. Collectively, human. Our discourse is unfriendly, our audience without accessible body language and discernible facial contortion. We have no trouble moving out of the realm of healthy dialogue and into the country of insult, and arrogant judgment… all with the interpersonal aplomb of one who has said their piece and slammed the door for emphasis.
Take your stance, back it with whatever you may choose to use. You are the boss of you. Absolutely entitled to your island of certainty. However, no other person is you, has your experiences, or education, or trauma. Express yourself freely, but own your bias proudly, and choose to believe the best about the others in the conversation. They too have strong beliefs and opinions. Experience has most likely swayed their perspective. And no one was ever authentically won over to another side by having their intelligence mocked, their bias belittled or their education insulted.
Today I deleted my own comment. Not because I thought I was wrong. But because I learned from the first response to it that those who read it were looking for confirmation bias. Not perspective. Not even dialogue. Just an “Amen.” I know, because I’ve done it myself. I want my horse to be the highest sometimes. But I’m usually not at my most generous or kind in those moments.
We have forgotten our humanity in our social media wars. We have forgotten our right to agree to disagree. When we have an outburst that fails to reflect the dignity of another, we inevitably become what we accuse another of being. Asinine is not a virtue. It is not a quality that promotes unity and understanding. Mockery is not conducive to relational harmony. If one requires these “tools” over the course of conversation it proves only that they are insecure on a human level. That their own uncertainty has shocked them, and they are now reaching for the big guns that with either make you grab your own, or go running away.
Strength in debate is maintaining perspective. It is evaluating why the view of another is threatening rather than taking our “hammer of truth” out. I can’t count the number of times I have heard people calling someone else weak for their inability to take criticism when that clearly wasn’t what was happening in the conversation. If your boundaries are in a healthy place, you will not speak down to another person. You will behave as though you passed kindergarten. You will ask questions before you assume anything. And, you will think before you judge.
And sometimes you will think “I hadn’t thought of that…” And you won’t die of shock.
Yes, we are too easily offended these days. But I am of the strong opinion that it is because we are looking for people to identify with, rather than knowing our own identity, and living it out. We are scared of change, because we want to be certain of something. You know what? If I am behaving in a way that is actually senseless, another perspective might be useful. However, if the approach denies our mutual humanity said input it will be automatically rejected. Why? Because I have ears for love. I have ears for your story. I have a heart that wants to know and be known. And that, my friend, starts in a very basic place. Our Humanity. The love available and expressed. The dignity and respect of ALL. Doing unto others… is still, it seems, the golden rule. As unto thyself… Or do you speak that way to you? If so, we have another conversation coming.