By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer
The two major parties in America have been growing further and further apart. On many political issues, such as healthcare and gun control, people have become increasingly unaccepting towards opinions different from their own.
It’s completely normal for people to have very different opinions on issues. We are shaped by the various environments we grow up in and the unique individuals we grow up around. However, we need to be willing to listen to other sides of issues and attempt to understand where people are coming from.
It is important to have discussions about political affairs because these are issues that directly impact the rights and privileges that Americans have. But often, these discussions turn into arguments or verbal assaults, where each side downplays opposing opinions. Attacking each other’s opinions only causes more of a divide.
The more people understand where others are coming from, the more likely they are to be willing to come to a collaborative solution. However, that understanding will not happen unless we are willing to listen to opinions that we may consider drastically different from, and maybe even incompatible with, our own.
As a country, we need to foster a culture of respect, both for individuals themselves and their opinions. And the creation of that culture needs to start on both ends of the ladder.
Most individuals follow the lead of those in charge. Political leaders need to begin to build the type of culture that fulfills the desires of as many people as possible, regardless of political stance. If leaders show this, other individuals will be more likely to take the cue and create a culture of understanding on a more massive scale.
On the other hand, this does not mean we, as “average people,” should wait until our leaders show a willingness to listen to opposing views to do so ourselves.
If we respect other people’s opinions and recognize where they are coming from, we will be more likely to let go of our own tightly-held beliefs.
Something important that often gets over-looked is the idea of simply showing others that we care about and respect their opinion. Dismissing what other parties say makes them more defensive about their own beliefs. But showing interest in why people have certain beliefs makes them do the same in return.
If we start having open-minded discussions about political issues, society will become more welcoming to people with all kinds of beliefs. At that point, more leaders who think that same way will be voted into office. This will make America a much more accepting place.
But right now, we are going in the opposite direction. Many individuals, including political leaders, are strongly holding onto their own beliefs and not showing tolerance towards opposing opinions. Republicans and Democrats are continuously attacking each other, whether it be in the government itself, over the general media, or on social media platforms such as Twitter.
So let’s change this. And let’s start now, here, at Baylor. If you’re not already, be more open-minded about people with different views than you. Be willing to listen.