Lately I’ve been struck by how much our culture has sadly moved to a do as I say not as I do philosophy. If you want to relate it to politics, it’s both sides saying about the other that this or that has been said and it’s terrible, unconscionable, awful, then they turn around and say something equally as terrible, unconscionable, and awful and somehow that’s OK. It’s as if people think they can say, post, write, whatever they want about a person or a thing, but others who might have an opposing opinion have no right or are somehow unamerican if they believe differently, talk about things differently.
One of the things I love about this country is the tapestry. We are different. We think differently about things, our lives, our problems, the solutions to our problems. And just because I may disagree with you, or you with me, doesn’t make either one of us wrong. We just see things differently based on our personal experience. This is where empathy comes in. Or at least it should.
We get so caught up in our own stuff. Our problems, our routines, the daily minutia of our lives. Of course we do. What’s happening for us on a daily basis can be all consuming if we are experiencing something tough in the moment. It can be all consuming just going through a regular day. Laundry and bills and work and dishes and cleaning the house and taking care of the kids and the kid’s schedules and our schedules and health issues and taking care of our pets and on and on. It’s easy to be buried under it. We have blinders on and get caught up in it all so that when we are speaking about something, looking at something and rendering an opinion about it, we tend to do it from our perspective alone. We forget that everyone else is going through the same thing, getting through it in their own way. That’s millions of people and millions of perspectives. Each based on their own philosophy earned from living their life.
So, what does all this rambling mean? What am I trying to get at here?
We need to somehow remember that our opinions aren’t the only opinions. That the views of other people mean something. If nothing else they mean something to them. Honest criticism is good. Honest criticism is necessary. No one individual opinion matters more than another. If you don’t like how I’m doing something, especially if it relates to you, or someone you care about, or a subject that matters to you, you have a right to speak your opinion about it. I would hope you do it respectfully. I would hope you would be genuine and sincere. But I would hope you would say something.
Disagreement is good. Calling someone out for doing something hurtful to others is good. Having a difference of opinion about how to run the government or raise your children or enhance education or clean up the environment is good. It sparks conversation. During conversation ideas are exchanged. When we exchange ideas we come up with more creative solutions, we go at problems from more than one direction. Things actually get done.
First though, we have to get over this silly notion of doing as I say not as I do. Let’s instead do what we say. Let’s expect that if we are critical, others might be critical of us in return. This does not make us unamerican. On the contrary, it’s what makes us an American.