One of the greatest things about this country is that we are all entitled to our own opinions. We can voice our opinions without punishment, believe what we want and do what we want without much control from a governmental body. In this country, I can publish this column on this page that says “Opinion” right at the top in big, bold letters. In this country, my 600 opinionated words can be distributed to the 16,787 students on the Baylor campus and the 6.9 billion internet users that can access the Lariat’s webpage. With this amazing ability we have been given comes an enormous responsibility: Knowledge of the line between disapproval and disrespect.
Politics have long played the role of the giant elephant (or donkey) in the room, but over the past year have become even more taboo. People don’t voice their opinions in certain crowds out of fear of being harassed and judged, and speaking out is supposed to be a basic American right. People are turning their backs on their neighbors because of the bubble they filled in one night in a private booth. People are even turning their backs on their neighbors for something as simple as the news channel they prefer to watch. And in recent weeks, people are using disgusting terms to refer to the man that currently runs our country and those who voted for him. People are using disgusting terms to refer to the greatest gift that our Founding Fathers gave us: The ability to speak our minds openly.
So you’re concerned about the wall that could be built by the border? What about the wall that divides us from our fellow Americans? Regardless of race, religion, disability, weight, age or gender, we are all brothers and sisters living in a great place ,and regardless of what bubble was filled in on election night, we are all guilty of adding another brick to the wall that divides the wonderful people in this nation. And this, this brick-by-brick phenomena, is currently blocking the people’s view of what makes America a great nation. By disrespecting our president and those who voted for him, we disrespect the very reason our Founding Fathers created this country and we disrespect a major value America was built on.
If just one person throws their brick for the wall away, others will follow. And all of a sudden, the wall that divides our nation will brick by brick be taken apart, and we can use those bricks to start building a stronger, more unified foundation. Our opinion is such a special thing that we each hold. It is the only thing that is completely and totally our own. Once we learn to distinguish dislike and disrespect, the sky is the limit for where we can go and how we can build upon each other. The start of that comes from developing the maturity to disagree with the opinions we don’t share and still respect the person they came from. The power of opinion enables me to dislike whatever and whoever I want, and so can you. But the power of opinion also presents the responsibility to maturely agree to disagree, then come out with hands still intertwined.