Lead with values, show respect
To the editor:
The existence of radical partisans does not mean everyone or even the majority of folks on “the other side” agree with the most radical voices.
On your side, there are radical voices. Should your opinion be discarded or marginalized because an ill-considered fraction of those “on your side” expresses their support in an illogical or offensive way?
This is similar to saying “both sides run negative ads, so I don’t have to feel bad about my side’s negative ads.” Or, “both candidates have been caught in lies or exaggerations, and therefore I don’t need to evaluate the merits of what someone is saying.”
Once tensions are high — in a married couple that is splitting up for example — both sides are likely to say and feel intemperate things. Things they likely will regret later, although perhaps only years later.
Lucky are those who can step back from the hurt and identify matters that are important and even ways in which they themselves have been wrong or have contributed to the breakdown that is taking place.
There are excruciating movies that tell the tale of individuals who feel they have been badly treated and who cannot ever let go of that hurt. The dispute ruins their lives and the lives of their families. When it’s in a movie, we recognize that a reasonable resolution was ignored, perhaps repeatedly, and instead, the hurt person chose to pursue a “justice” that was hurtful and that does not reflect their true values.
We’re human. We hurt. We feel our allegiances deeply and we feel the rightness of our side. And there are many who agree with us. But the existence of just as many neighbors and colleagues who feel deeply the opposing perspective should give us pause.
Should we simply dismiss those others as wrong? Should we conclude that there is no merit in any aspect of their view of our dispute? Will shunning and silencing them reflect our values?
Let’s lead with our values. Our neighbors will know we are honorable people by actions that show our respect for all our brothers and sisters. We can find things to agree on. Shall we work together to find them?