And to those who disagree, you’re not idiots.

It’s that delightful time in our nation when we get to hear all of the opinions— political discussions about presidential picks, abortion rights, gay marriage, size of government, immigration policy, gun control, tax system, yada, yada, yada.

How fortunate we are to hear everyone’s take on each of them all of the time.

I get it. I feel very passionate about my stances on these issues and who I believe is the best candidate for arguably the most powerful position in the world, and I don’t see anything wrong with sharing those opinions with others.

What gets frustrating is how we share those opinions. Many people must believe that everyone else feels the exact same way they do because otherwise, they would never say some of the things they say on social media about people who believe another way.

“Can you believe this idiot is in the race?”

“Who is actually for this abominable idea?”

“I will leave the country if this person is elected!”

“Why are people so ignorant to believe this?”

political discussions

The meme cards that mock people’s beliefs, the unflattering photos of candidates with disrespectful titles across them, the derogatory comparisons… it really just stinks! I don’t like seeing any of it, even if I agree with the premise.

There must be a better way to discuss these issues and maybe even win someone over to another way of thinking.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14 NIV

If each of us could just assume that the research is right and that likely half of the nation disagrees with us, and that most likely some of those disagree-ers are on our social media “friends” lists, then I’m confident we could be more civilized. We wouldn’t say the things we are spewing on social media to someone’s face, so let’s not say that stuff to them online.

How would you engage someone in your own living room? In person, I think we would ask them questions about why they believe a certain way and listen to their answers. Most people’s political beliefs come from strong convictions of the heart. They have adopted their tenets because of deep moral principles. Would you want to mock a person’s heart?

There must be a better way to discuss these issues and maybe even win someone over to another way of thinking.

In mulling over how much I dislike the political putdowns, I came across this article, “The ‘Other Side’ is Not Dumb.”* It has some interesting research about how we tend to believe that our friends all think like us, and how we think the “others” are stupid. It’s definitely a great read with some compelling points to ponder. (The article had me up until it makes a reference to people who share Fox News articles as those who would “rather be smug a$%#@^*& than consider alternative views.” That just seemed to go against all the points the article was making.)

Let’s keep these four things in mind when we engage in political discussions or any ethical debates, and maybe we’ll get through this divisive time while keeping the friendships we have, and maybe gaining the respect of some of the “others.”

  1. Roughly half the country disagrees with you, and therefore, at least some of those “others” are your friends.
  2. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it at all.
  3. People’s beliefs—however flawed you might believe them to be—come from a very real and honest place, and ultimately, people feel their beliefs are good, the right thing.
  4. Asking questions to try and understand someone’s point of view is a more effective approach to possibly changing their opinion than telling someone how he or she is wrong. In fact, if we truly listen, we can still understand where people are coming from and why they believe the way they do without agreeing with them.

Let’s make every effort to keep the peace this political season so our friends feel validated, respected, and included. No one is an idiot because they don’t share our deeply held beliefs.

And to those who disagree, you're not idiots! Click To Tweet

*Blanda, Sean. The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb. Digital image. Medium. N.p., 7 Jan. 2016. Web. 7 Jan. 2016. <https://medium.com/@SeanBlanda/the-other-side-is-not-dumb-2670c1294063#.xuaym2su3>.

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