Opinions. We all have them, we all stand by them, we fight for them and we fight because of them. We live them, we ignore them, we embrace them and we challenge them. But rarely do we accept someone else’s, regardless of whether or not we feel the same way. Why is that? Are our egos that fragile that we can’t imagine someone else thinking in a different way than we do? Are we that narcissistic that we think what we believe is that much more important than what someone else does? No, I’m not talking about someone being right or wrong or about worldly morality, or something our hearts know to be wrong ( eg: Murdering is bad-and lets be honest the word morality can be used to define a multitude of different perspectives, but I’m using it here as a way to help outline what exactly I’m referring to-) I’m talking about an OPINION in it’s definition: “a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.” Or is it that we, in fact, do not see our opinion as an opinion, but as a solid, stone-cold truth because we have been conditioned to think one way and close our minds off to anything that challenges it,
In the wake of the recent tragedies that are happening across the world by ISIL militants, I can guarantee we have all seen some terrifying posts on social media from people we love and respect. What is terrifying about them, to me, isn’t their opinion on why, how, refugees, governments, Syria, etc etc, its the lack of compassion, lack of empathy, lack of grace and lack of tolerance; tolerance, I think, being the key word. What I can understand is people putting in their 2 cents on a topic they feel strongly about, What I can understand is people disagreeing strongly to an opinion of someone else. But what i can NOT understand is attacking another human being or all the bigot, prejudice, racist and the down right inhumane things we are saying to and about one another literally based on your own opinion. Especially when the information that is floating around out there on the inter-web is coming from one thousand and one sources (most of them completely illegitimate). Don’t you think that we should be a little nicer to each other? Don’t you think that our humanity should be the first colour we show? Not our judgement or our self-given right to persecute. Don’t you think that revolting against someone else’s beliefs or opinions is exactly what terrorists want? Turning neighbour against neighbour and husband against wife letting the ember of hate fester and flame until the fire of destruction is coming from within our own walls? Don’t you think that, even though you may not agree with someone, you can respectfully disagree, have a conversation or have a debate without attacking them? I mean, politicians can’t do it, but we can. We aren’t in a race, we aren’t trying to win a political battle, a seat in the House or the position of Prime Minister. We are community, we are the people. Stand up for what you believe in, shout it from the rooftops, but when someone disagrees with you, be polite and hear them out. We will only be rounded as a society if we can see this terrifying, beautiful, ever changing world from multiple points of view.
But even if you can’t. Even if you are set in your ways, don’t want to see anyone else’s side of things, just want to believe what you believe and know what you know, you don’t have to bash someone else for feeling the exact same way about their point of view, because, I mean, it would be completely maddening and disrespectful if someone did it to you..right?
I have my own opinions about a lot of things that I feel strongly about. Like cancer (fueled today a little more by a sweet little man’s life nearing it’s end..seriously, fuck it.), like gender, racial and sexual equality, like ISIS, like abortion, like national security, like the refugee crisis, like leggings not being pants and like what time of day it is acceptable to open a bottle of wine. I have very strong opinions and I enjoy hearing the opinions of the people I care about and respect in a safe, open and TOLERANT environment because we do not agree on everything, not in spite of.
I have a born and raised dutch reformer, a non-practicing catholic/medium, a modern woman who refused to live with her boyfriend of 8 years until they were engaged, an ex-Mennonite, a very christian, a spiritual yogi, an atheist, an agnostic, a vegetarian, a vegan, a “for refugees” an “against refugees” a pro choice, a pro life, a man who wants more military involvement, a man who wants less military involvement, and a guy who just wants more potato chips and is wondering if that is too much to ask, in my social and family circles. I have people from the old school and people from, I guess, the new school. And although I think conversations would get heated, I know I could put them all in a room together and we could have one hell of a time, because we have one thing in common; love. And within that love is compassion, empathy and tolerance. They all come from different walks of life, different childhoods, different experiences and hardships, but they all have respect for the other opinions and human beings around them. I would like to think that most people, if put in a room with the same diversity would also have the decency to be respectful and address others compassionately. We haven’t walked in each other shoes, we don’t know what someone else is going through and we don’t know their hearts.
I can say nothing profound, nothing groundbreaking, nothing someone else hasn’t said, but if someone were to ask me my opinion, other than using words like tragedy, heartbreaking, sickening and disgraceful, these are the words I would choose to put out into the world.
Do not turn a blind eye to what is happening around you. Take a stance and do what you can to help, through an avenue that you are comfortable with. Do not see yourself as better, do not see yourself as more intelligent, right or worse, less intelligent or wrong. See yourself as equal to those around you. Especially with the holiday season coming up, show tolerance, show love and show the world that our humanity remains, no matter how hard outside forces try to make it crumble.