No, this is not a commentary on Adele’s hit song.
This is commentary on something I think is really important for Americans to understand. Yet, when I look around, I get the impression that so very few do, and very few even want to try.
The issue is the “other” side. You know, those people over there. The ones who look different, or do different things. Or (gasp) think or believe differently. Those people that often earn some kind of dehumanizing or insulting label. The lighter version may be something like idiot or stupid. A darker version may be racist or traitor. I can’t tell you how tired I am of seeing those memes on social media that arrogantly demean the “other” side. Having friends from both political persuasions, I often wonder what my friends on the “other” side think about those simplistic, insulting and usually off-base memes. Do people think they are convincing anyone in this way? Or is that even something they care to do? I guess being right is far more important, even if you aren’t factual.
In a year of presidential politics, we hear plenty about the “other” side and how terrible they are. We hear about how the “other” side is out to destroy the country. I haven’t heard the reason why though. I’m always wondering how destroying the country benefits the “other” side. What do they get out of it? Obviously, according to the logic, if we want to use that term loosely, the “other” side will somehow magically get out of the effects of destroying the country. I always wondered how they did that.
The “other” side are bad people. They are evil aren’t they?
Let’s not even get to “those” people who think they are above all of this – you know “those” people who take neither side, or can see some element of truth in both sides, or who befriend people on both sides. They are obviously worthy of some kind of label too because they aren’t fully on “our” team. Maybe they are spies or have no backbone or something else. Watch out for those people.
The fact is, we’re also the “other” side to someone else. Maybe even someone we know.
Maybe we’re the “other” side when it comes to politics. Maybe it’s religion. Maybe it’s skin color. Maybe it’s how you drive. Maybe it’s what restaurant you eat at. Maybe it’s what languages you can read or speak. Maybe it’s something else, all of these or a combination of them.
We’re all on the “other” side, but we don’t want to admit it. That would make our label of others apply to us. And then what would happen?
I’m going to leave you with some quotes from an article I read on this subject. It’s well written and I think the author has some great points to consider. Enjoy.
Here are some great quotes from the article:
Sharing links that mock a caricature of the Other Side isn’t signaling that we’re somehow more informed. It signals that we’d rather be smug assholes than consider alternative views. It signals that we’d much rather show our friends that we’re like them, than try to understand those who are not.
We should all enter every issue with the very real possibility that we might be wrong this time.
This is not to say the Other Side is “right” but that they likely have real reasons to feel that way.
You won’t convince anyone to feel the way you do if you don’t respect their position and opinions.
The next time you feel compelled to share a link on social media about current events, ask yourself why you are doing it. Is it because that link brings to light information you hadn’t considered? Or does it confirm your world view, reminding your circle of intellectual teammates that you’re not on the Other Side?
One last request – find someone from the “other” side today, and just ask them to explain why they think they are right on one topic – make it an easy topic – like what restaurant they like to go to and why. You might learn something. Then you can ease your way into something more important, like politics or religion.
The point is this – you ask and then you do something novel – you shut up and listen. You don’t think about how you are going to respond. You just listen and try to understand. Then you give feedback in the form of saying what you heard to see if you understood the person. That’s it. You don’t try to convince. You don’t try to correct, even when the other person is obviously in error. You just listen and try to understand. At the end you might still think the person is wrong. That’s fine, it’s not about changing your opinion or beliefs about the subject. It’s about being open to the possibility that people are different and that’s ok.