Each of us has a way of looking at the world – a paradigm. We each have things which we see as reprehensible, as regrettable but necessary, and as good. The problem comes when the paradigms run into each other. In those cases, our first reaction is to lash out at the other person who is supporting what we see as so reprehensible. We write them off – how could anyone possibly think that? There must be something severely wrong with them.
It takes tremendous effort to pull ourselves out of our paradigms enough to see the other’s point of view, even if just a little bit – to understand that perhaps they aren’t reprehensible, perhaps they do have good reasons for believing as they do, even if they are reasons that we reject. It takes so much more effort to understand than it does to dismiss – but understanding is so much more rewarding, if sometimes more frustrating.
Abortion, gay marriage, what constitutes free speech, what constitutes hate speech…etc. etc. It all falls under this problem of differing paradigms. We talk past each other instead of talking *to* each other. Paradigms make it so hard – when one talks about rights and free speech, one person’s reprehensible is another person’s must. Who gets to draw the lines? What’s what? This is what makes politics, and life, so hard sometimes. We have to draw lines at some point, to protect those who need to be protected. But where are the lines? It’s this sort of thing which makes me want to go hide my head in the sand…and sometimes I do, for a little bit.
Then I continue trying to understand – as much as I can, in my limited way. It may not change my mind, but it can definitely change my heart.