How Do You Respect Your Opposition?

The history of our nation is replete with heated debates over many topics ranging from such controversial topics as slavery, abortion, labor laws and other such topics of strongly held beliefs. In almost every case there has been strong, emotional pleas made by both sides in an attempt to gain support for their cause, usually resulting in a division of ideologies as one group struggled for dominance over the other. America has been called the melting pot of the world, and while this is true on a cultural level, it usually hasn’t been so on a political one.

At the same time, for most of our existence we have been able to settle our heated debates through either reasonable discourse or by understanding that very simple concept of making compromises that both sides can live with to move in a forward direction. America is a nation of compromises, and by its very nature has to be to have any chance of moving into any kind of a positive future. It is only by respecting each other and being willing to give in on some of the small things that we can get any sort of advancement at all on the larger issues.

In a society where we have become hyper-partisan in our thinking, it is easier than ever to simply ignore anything that someone from an opposing viewpoint has to say. No matter how reasonable their arguments might be or how good of a person they have been, we tend to automatically discount the validity of their arguments simply because of the moniker they choose to bear. It is sad then that so many people will miss out on truly amazing thoughts and ideas simply because of the source.

As a more conservative leaning libertarian, I struggle to listen to modern liberal thinking. It has gotten so bad that the moment I start hearing certain key phrases, my mind shuts off and I stop listening. You can quickly identify a person who is simply repeating the talking points of the far left within moments; simply wait for a statement about racial injustice or a “living wage” or what personal pronoun to which they “identify”. These are the cue cards for someone who has no rational thoughts within them and are simply following the crowd. Feel no shame in putting their voices on mute.

However, there are some individuals from my opposing viewpoint for which I have a great deal of respect, not because I agree with their political philosophies, but because they stand up for what America was always supposed to be. In this case, Bill Maher is the impetus for this article because lately I have found myself watching much more of his content, mostly because he has no fear in standing up for what he believes is right. His videos condemning cancel culture show his true colors, and while I don’t care much for many of his political philosophies, I respect his position that America is all about letting people be people.

It is quite possible to respect someone who has very different ideas from your own. Some of the greatest friendships in history were between people of diametrically opposed viewpoints. For example, James Carville is a staunch Democrat who married an advocate for the Republicans, Mary Matalin. Two people from opposite sides of the same coin coming together with respect for each other despite their radically differing views of the world.

What we need to remember is that even though there are certain topics that we very strongly disagree on, we are all Americans with a common heritage and a basically uniform way of thinking. Our disagreements are really trivial when we consider the balance of the remaining things that we all agree on: peace, love and a pursuit of what gives our lives meaning. There is no bridge we can’t build together if we can stop seeing each other as enemies and open our eyes to the truth: we aren’t so different after all.

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