Last week I entered an interesting discussion after commenting on a friend’s post. She posted an article regarding a recent court decision and included her own passionate commentary which struck me as harsh and judgmental. I made the comment that her post was quite venom-filled (maybe I should have used harsh – but I don’t know that it would have made any difference) and really left no room for any discussion. I suggested that the particular political ideology group (the subject of her attack) didn’t seem to be the only ones with passionate beliefs that could easily be labeled as close-minded. My intent was to hold up a mirror…
Her response, as well as the response of three others, blasted this particular group quite, well, venomously. After I pointed out that I never said where I stood on the issue, one poster went so far as to tell who I am, what I believe, and what I think. I find it intriguing that this person doesn’t even know me and had already decided where I stood on all the issues, and that if I disagree with her, I obviously was also against her freedom to live how she wanted. I’m guessing these individuals fail to see the irony in that they are free to tell me I am wrong in what I believe, but I, on the other hand, have no right to believe they are wrong.
My comments purposefully did not argue for or against any particular belief, issue, or agenda, but rather I attempted to point out that name calling, labeling, and prejudging create the divisive and unproductive polarization that plagues our country. Unfortunately, those within the discussion had no desire other than to do just that.
I wonder if these individuals have considered our discussion as much as I have this past week. It is intriguing. And makes me wonder. Do we (and by we, I mean people in general, regardless of any religious affiliation, political position, ethnicity, or socio-economic status) know why we believe what we believe (often quite passionately)? Have we truly given thought to what we do believe? How do we treat others who believe differently than we do? Do we even seek to acquaint ourselves with others who are different from us? Do we attempt to know them, understand them? Or do we only surround ourselves with people who look like us, live like us, think like us, believe like us?
Granted, that is a safe place to be. Comfortable. Easy. But couldn’t it make us lazy, complacent, and even suspicious. And in the end cause us to see everyone different as the “other,” the “they,” the “them?” And couldn’t this comfortable place create an atmosphere of name calling, labeling, and prejudging which polarizes us even further?
Then again, I was accused of being close-minded.