There has been a lot of controversial conflicts recently: Ferguson, Eric Garner, etc. Whenever something of this nature hits the media, my social media feeds blow up with polarized views. Often these views are expressed in a pompous way, as though to say "If you don't agree with me, you're stupid." I've decided I have a problem with that. Before I go on, please understand that the intent of this post is to not stake a claim on either side for any case.
Let me start off by throwing my cards on the table: I grew up in a loving and hard working middle class family. I am a Libertarian... for me, this means fiscally conservative, and socially all over the place. However, growing up I used to be an extreme conservative/Republican. Admittedly, I used to post those pompous statuses I now cringe at. While I'm glad I was at least paying attention to political issues and current events at a relatively young age, I am not proud of the way I used to determine and then express my stances on various situations. Thank God for maturity.
As I matured, I learned something invaluable: if you want someone to hear you out and see things from your side, you HAVE to walk a mile in their shoes first. If you do this genuinely you may find yourself altering your own convictions... people seem to think this is a bad or embarrassing thing, but it is not!
Think about it, if you're solving a problem at work and you present your solution, and then a coworker says "But wait, I'm not sure if you thought of this angle. How about we do this instead?" What do you do? You hear them out. And then discuss the issue further with your coworker, and you may even go "back and forth" a little bit. But typically, the approach taken is a blend of ideas, not just your own... and assuming you're not working with incompetent people, the blended solution you come up with together ends up being the best option. People suck it up and work together on issues at work, and other environments, but they are so close minded on working together on LIFE issues.
Let's take Ferguson. I watched and read the news (through various media outlets to hear both versions). Take the final decision out of the equation because that's not what I'm writing about. Let's look at the response: the riots. I was horrified, and angry at those who participated in the riot. I still vehemently think that that was not the right thing to do.
But after a few days, I paused and wondered what could possibly provoke people to react so strongly, and violently, while effectively destroying and punishing their own community (like the store owners). I did a little research. I came across this video. I implore you to watch it. All of it. The dehumanizing actions exemplified in that video would cause anyone (including myself) to react strongly. I believe Ferguson was the straw that hit the camel's back. Again, I don't condone or agree with the way they reacted (and I am not commenting on the outcome itself). But to say that people (especially that community) don't have a right to be outraged makes me feel like they have not looked at both sides of the story.
People keep saying that we as American citizens need to "work together." But what does that really mean? To me, it means hearing people out, and being open minded enough to listen, and ballsy enough to adjust your own opinions that you may have fought hard for in the past.
Anyone can post a staunch Facebook status. But rather than standing on a digital soap box to validate yourself through accruing likes from like minded people, how about having a conversation with someone who you presents an alternate opinion. The conversation shouldn't be a debate, instead, make your goal to understand why someone feels another way. Consider what others present as an option. Don't let your pride get in the way of changing your stance.
After all, we're all in this together.