By Jesse Stilwell, February 7 2017 —
Lately, many of us have observed or taken part in heated political discussions. Events like the terrorist attack at a mosque in Quebec City, Trump’s travel ban and even Justin Trudeau’s cross country speaking tour can bring out deeply held political values that divide friendships and hurt relationships if not discussed in a careful manner.
People use the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ as pejorative labels to create an ‘us versus them’ atmosphere and blame the nasty effects of politics on a group other than themselves. Headlines such as “The Problem with Liberals” or “Stupid Things Conservatives Say” are in poor taste.
This blame game benefits no one. Insulting someone because they hold an opinion different than your own will not change their opinion or our political reality.
Both ideologies have compelling aspects and the potential to better society. Both have the potential to cause problems if taken too far. We need both sides to balance each other out. Constructive discussions between both ends of the political spectrum are important when sharing ideas.
Insulting each other and blindly proclaiming that the evils of this world are the fault of the other side only allows these divisions to grow.
There are extremely intelligent liberals and conservatives as well as some hopelessly ignorant liberals and conservatives. We should try to learn from the intelligent ones and guide ignorant people towards legitimate sources of information.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed this same sentiment at his University of Calgary town hall saying, “if you ask me a question, you might want to listen to the answer,” when protesters wouldn’t give him a moment of silence to answer the question they demanded to ask. It wasted attendees’ time to sit through an argument between the Prime Minister and a handful of protesters. The protesters would have strengthened their points by listening to, understanding and criticizing Trudeau’s words, rather than muffling them with their incoherent jeers and yelling.
Politics is not a battle to be won or a zero-sum game with winners and losers. We should share and celebrate the diverse perspectives that our fundamental right to freedom of thought protects, not fight to limit them or blame them for our societal shortcomings.
The next time someone you know brings up a political opinion or issue that you disagree with, ask them why they think that way and actually listen to them before forming an opinion. Don’t assume someone’s opinion is fundamentally wrong just because it’s different from your own.