There’s been a lot of talk about the National Anthem, and about kneeling or standing this week. I’m not going to talk about that, though. Why? Pretty much no one watching this would change their mind anyway.
That’s because there isn’t a lot of room for disagreement these days. Whatever side people are on, they are completely sure they are right. I read an interesting speech by a man named Bret Stephens the other day, called The Dying Art of Disagreement. It talks about how no one knows how to disagree anymore. A recent poll shows over half of college students think it’s okay to shout down a speaker they disagree with. One in five thinks it’s okay to use violence to prevent a speaker from speaking.
This is a nation founded on disagreement. But we need to be able to talk about things rationally. We need to actually hear the other side’s opinion. Too many people surround themselves with friends and “news outlets” that simply tell them exactly what they want to hear.
What side are you on in the Anthem controversy? Do you listen to the arguments that people make on the other side? A whole of people just “defriend” opposing views on Facebook and share story after story that takes their point of view, congratulating themselves by how many of their friends like their post. The same friends that always like their post. Did they learn anything? Did they come any closer to understanding what other people might think? Or do they even care?
When Lincoln was President, he surrounded himself with people who had very different views, including three who actually ran against him in the 1860 election. He helped keep a country together.
Right now we need to work on being together, too. In his speech, Mr. Stephens said to disagree well, you have to understand well…and to do that all of us are going to need to do a lot more listening.
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