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Agree with Me, Idiot!

Only my opinion is right. Anyone who disagrees is the dumbest creature to ever grace the face of the earth.

This seems to be the common theme of disputes in the comment section of social media sites. Topics may range from serious, like President Rodrigo Duterte’s performance, to more trivial ones, like whether Liza Soberano is the right fit to be the next Darna.

“You praised President Duterte? You’re a Dutertard!

“You criticized President Duterte? You’re a Yellowtard!”

“You like Liza Soberano? You’re stupid, my idol is better than yours!”

“You don’t like Liza Soberano? You’re an insecure, ugly b*tch!”

What could have been an avenue for open discourse is reduced to mere name-calling.

Where is all this coming from? Perhaps it emanates from our strong adherence to our personal philosophies.

Our principles guide us in deciding whether something is right or wrong. Since we were born, these principles were honed by various factors in our environment: religion, education, social status, and many more. As we grow older, we are able to construct our own beliefs more independently, and they may change or remain.

Conflicts often arise when we encounter people whose judgment diverge from ours. We might perceive the opposing opinion as a direct insult to our beliefs. Even if sometimes it wasn’t done intentionally by the other camp, it’s as if they were insinuating that we are dumb.

So some lash back by resorting to ad hominem, commenting on the “enemy’s” intelligence level, looks, social status, and other things irrelevant to the argument.

I admit, my short-fused self is sometimes guilty of this too. But we should remind ourselves; who made a single person or group the sole authority to judge of what is right? How can we expect different people to have the same views? What made our own opinion superior from others that we can shame and bully them for it?

The desire to be right should not overtake kindness.

As aforementioned, the hodgepodge of factors we were exposed to affect the beliefs we hold now. If say someone grew up in an environment where one of these factors were changed compared to what they are now, say a person was raised in a different religion or entered a different school, there is no way to say that the opinions he or she holds now will still be the same.

For example, if a person is born wealthy and hold a particular view on poverty, that may have been different if, in an alternate universe, he or she experienced living in poverty firsthand.

Or, if someone’s parents happened to atheists instead of devout worshippers of a religion, then that person’s outlook on religion might have been different than what he or she has now.

Viewing it from this perspective, we should be more open to the idea of other people having different opinions than ours.

Therefore, let us be diverse, but not divisive.

A quote by George Bernard Shaw goes, “Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.”

Let’s imagine for a second that the optimists and the pessimists in the quote were inventing the airplane and the parachute side by side, and they were hell-bent on dragging each other down.

The optimists would have probably torn down the parachute and the pessimists would have disassembled the airplane piece by piece. They will also hurl hurtful words that will pull down each other’s morale.

No team would have been able to finish anything.

Divergent opinions are exciting. Imagine if we all think and act the same. How boring would it be to meet only multiples of ourselves everywhere!

Divergent opinions are healthy and necessary for us to see all sides of the issue. When we like something too much, more often we become blind to its pitfalls. Hearing the views of the other side will lead us to a better understanding not only of the other side’s arguments, but our own as well.

If the goal is to convince, or at the very least, show the opposing team what it’s like on the other side of the fence, then let us do it in a respectful manner. No one enjoys being treated condescendingly.

At the end of the day, the one we are talking to might not change his or her mind. But at least we helped in widening another person’s perspective, and likewise we became more open-minded and sympathetic as well.

How about next time, instead of plunging headfirst into scorching conflict, maybe we can try this first?

First, count 1-10, or however long is needed to calm ourselves. Breathe in, breathe out. Let us calm ourselves so that we may have our emotions under control.

Second, set an atmosphere that is welcome for a healthy discussion. Both parties should have equal chances to talk, without interruptions. Listen, not just to think of what to say next, but to actually understand. One may come to convince, but should also be open to the idea of being convinced. Some of the beliefs we hold through the years may reveal themselves obsolete upon closer inspection. It’s not a sin to change our opinions, entirely or partially.

Third, agree to disagree. Sometimes, opinions are just way too polarized to attempt a compromise. Agreeing to disagree means both parties know they won’t change their minds about the matter, but both recognize that it’s unnecessary to put the other down just for having a different opinion.

With these, disputes will get solved more easily.

You might disagree with me, and it’s okay. I don’t claim to be an expert of anything. If you don’t agree, then argue with me. Let’s discuss.

But first, let us promise that no one will be called an idiot.

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