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Imagine

The other day a friend shared an image on Facebook – you know, one of those memes that eventually makes its way into everyone’s newsfeed – about a current contentious issue, which, predictably, set off a firestorm of comments among the people on her friends list.

I’ll admit it: I lurked.

Yes, I lurked. And wow, it really wasn’t pretty. The very first person to respond to the original post started off hostile and defensive (and, incidentally, somewhat off-topic), and things rapidly devolved from there, with people representing both “sides” of the hot-button issue raised by the first commenter rapidly chiming in with their own feelings and opinions.

As I observed the flow of posts, I noted that the main players on both sides didn’t actually seem to be listening to what the others had to say, but instead responded to each comment with their own well-rehearsed catchphrases and rhetoric designed to put their opponent in their place.

Witnessing a scenario like the one on my friend’s Facebook page makes me think, ruefully, that if a handful of individuals can’t even have a reasonable exchange of ideas on an internet forum, the thought of ever achieving world peace is laughable at best.

It’s completely fair and understandable that we will all approach issues from different angles, and, based on our varying belief systems and worldview, come to different places at which to stand. And after all, a cookie-cutter world where we all thought the same and acted the same and lived the same would be colourless, dull, and devoid of value.

But I wonder how much of what we have to say about our beliefs, about our feelings on issues, is completely lost because of the method in which we choose to share it.

I wonder what would happen if, when we found ourselves involved in such a discussion, we for just one minute consented to suspend our beliefs, let go of our assumptions about what we think the other person is saying, and really listen with an open heart, a willing mind, a softness of spirit.

I don’t necessarily think that doing so would totally change minds on either side. Nor do I think having a population made up of robots would be at all interesting (see above).

But imagine a world where instead of preconceived notions, namecalling, misperceptions, and hostility, we ended up actually understanding each other just a little better and thereby living in peace. Imagine if instead of judging others, we tried to learn from them. Imagine if instead of fighting, we accepted that sometimes there will be differences, and that’s ok.

Imagine.

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Becky February 22, 2012

    As I was growing up and developing my own beliefs, even though some discussions left me frustrated and tearful, I learned a lot. And sometimes I even changed an opinion.

    I still learn things, but not much has the ability to change my core beliefs and principles at this age. With my friends whose beliefs are different from, even the opposite of, mine, those topics are off limits. I no longer have any interest in debate the way I did when I was young.

    But I have a hard time believing that if we did have those discussions, it would be with the rudeness and intolerance I see online. I think those behaviors and comments are deplorable, so I rarely participate, other than sometimes to offer a supportive comment to those I agree with.
    Becky recently posted… Legacy Writing 365:52My Profile

    • Dawn
      Twitter:
      February 22, 2012

      I’m much the same, Becky. I don’t get involved in debate the same way I did when I was younger – I think when I was younger I was much more insecure and felt that I needed to prove myself or convince people that I was right, whereas now I’m more content to live and let live, knowing that sometimes there can be more than one “right.”

      I agree, too, that face-to-face discussions are usually carried out on a whole different level than online interactions. People seem more comfortable with being hateful when they’re hiding behind a computer.
      Dawn recently posted… ImagineMy Profile

  • margaret christine perkins
    Twitter:
    February 22, 2012

    Great post. I started with the thoughts that ‘it’s getting worse…too bad more people aren’t like ME’ lol….then I realized that WAS me. I’m still not as open-minded as I’d like to think. Definitely food for thought.
    margaret christine perkins recently posted… like a well-watered garden: ash wednesdayMy Profile

    • Dawn
      Twitter:
      February 23, 2012

      Admittedly, it’s a lot easier to point the finger when you’re lurking rather than participating, so I need to look at myself too!
      Dawn recently posted… ImagineMy Profile

  • Denine February 22, 2012

    Really like your take on this — and you made me think about taking a deeper dive in terms of things I can and should write about and observe(without giving me a bad case of The Shoulds). Really enjoyed this!
    Denine recently posted… Geek Love (2.22.2012)My Profile

    • Dawn
      Twitter:
      February 23, 2012

      Thank you so much… I’m glad you liked it, and am glad you stopped by!
      Dawn recently posted… ImagineMy Profile

  • Elise Davis February 23, 2012

    It is amazing isn’t it how poorly we, as humans, get along. We want our kids to get along, but we really don’t know what that involves and it involves so much such as learning how to listen, how to share, how to WANT to problem solve and find a solution, how to…..the list goes on. It can be very discouraging and yet I think the more we model it, the more chances it has of happening. Facebook does create its own petri dish doesn’t it!
    Elise Davis recently posted… Warm Slippers and Easy BedtimesMy Profile

    • Dawn
      Twitter:
      February 23, 2012

      It really does! Facebook often provides a really fascinating look at humanity.
      Dawn recently posted… ImagineMy Profile

  • Jenn February 23, 2012

    I avoid commenting on hot button issues or even sharing my opinions for this very reason. Civil discourse seems to be a lost art–and I refuse to participate in the “rehearsed catch phrase” debates. There are a very few people I know, that may not have the same world view as me that I can actually think of having interesting, well thought out debates with on some of these issues–and it speaks more to their character as a person–than it does to the stances they take or the views they hold. I wish there were more people like this to engage with 🙂
    Jenn recently posted… CenterpieceMy Profile

    • Dawn
      Twitter:
      February 23, 2012

      I sure do too! It’s a great experience to be able to have a REAL debate, with no gameplaying and no hard feelings – I think that sort of discussion can be a real learning experience for all participants. Sadly, people capable of doing so are all too rare!
      Dawn recently posted… ImagineMy Profile

  • Susan
    Twitter:
    February 24, 2012

    Imagine a world where people actually stopped and listened to each other before replying. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own reverie that we forget that others actually have opinions. Thank you for sharing, because all I really wanted to do is just listen. 🙂

    • Dawn
      Twitter:
      February 24, 2012

      Very good point! Sometimes we’re so busy formulating our own response that we don’t even hear what the other person is saying. Doesn’t make for a particularly productive discussion, does it?!
      Dawn recently posted… My Attic BedroomMy Profile

  • Linda
    Twitter:
    February 24, 2012

    Nice post, Dawn. Very thought provoking.

    What’s missing in our communication these days is one word: respect
    Linda recently posted… #36 Writer’s Choice: "Can’t Stop Time…"My Profile

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