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Posts Tagged ‘respect’

I saw this quotation by Nelson Mandela on Twitter and thought there was much wisdom in it.  “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

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As you may already have noticed, occasionally I will depart from the overall theme of this blog. Perhaps you will think that is what I am doing today. Actually, I posted some of these same ideas on my other blog, but something I read yesterday on Twitter motivated me to revisit the subject. First of all, while I like to think of myself as a moderate, let me admit that I am in most areas a political conservative (the dreaded “C” word). Before you turn me off (which is actually the topic I want to explore), please hear me out for a moment.

Yesterday I read a post with a title that sounded encouraging. It suggested that whatever we believe are the best solutions to our problems, we should be united in understanding and caring about those problems. I can’t say what the writer intended to portray, but after reading the post, I came away with the impression that he was saying that unless you adopt his particular agenda, you are selfish, unfeeling, and uncaring. It appeared to me that the writer invented a straw man to represent the conservative viewpoint and then proceeded to demonize that straw man. It was obvious to me that he had no understanding of my views, my reasons for holding them, or my attitudes toward those in our country who are in need of help. I would also like to emphasize that I have read articles by conservatives who demonize liberals in similar ways.

A few years ago I worked with a man whose views were as liberal as mine are conservative. We became friends and took our breaks together. Invariably we talked about the two taboos—religion and politics. How could we do that and remain friends? The answer was simple.

We respected each other’s integrity.

We never ridiculed the other person’s views.

We always tried to understand what each of us was really trying to say.

I always looked forward to our discussions, and I came away from them feeling good—about myself and the other person. The discussions helped me face the reality of my views. In a few instances, the other man’s insight caused me to moderate my understanding. Honestly, in most areas, my views remained essentially unchanged—as did his.

But that wasn’t the point. I believe we both came away understanding something of how much we agreed on, as well as the reality that neither of us was the devil the media so often portrays us to be. Yes, we disagreed on the best way to deal with our multitude of problems; especially the role government should play. But we both recognized that each side has concerns which deserve to be acknowledged and respected.

Liberal or conservative, do not allow politicians or the media to paint your fellow Americans as enemies. Be very careful about imputing motives, especially on those with whom we disagree. Unless you know someone really well, it is virtually impossible to look into their heart with any degree of accuracy. Disagreeing with someone’s ideas does not make that person less than honorable.

I would encourage each of us to seek out the equivalent of the relationship I had with the individual at work.

Get together.

Talk things through.

Seek out areas in which you agree. You will find that there are likely a multitude of them.

Freely acknowledge differences, without questioning one another’s character.

Most of all, really listen to the other person.

America includes liberals, conservatives, and every element in between. At various times, one or the other view may appear to have the upper hand. But, as we seek to change what we feel needs to be changed, let us do so with mutual respect and understanding.

That is my view today. I would like to hear yours.

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