The philosophy of "Ubiquitous Relativity" encourages us to connect and engage with people who have opposing views. Too many times in the last few years I have heard people say: “I just had to ‘unfriend’ a bunch of people because they support ____. (Fill in the blank).
I wonder, is this the way to connect with others? By taking this action, in a sense I wall myself off from opposing viewpoints. I believe this is counterproductive for a few reasons.
First, while I may not agree with someone, what is the harm in asking “Why” they have a certain view or support a certain candidate?
Second, if I really feel strongly about my opinion on a topic, don’t I want to engage with others who feel differently, so that I may influence them and perhaps get them to see my point of view?
Last week, I was at Sedona Wolf Week. My wife and I are on the board of Apex Protection Project, a wolfdog rescue. The week is an opportunity for people to spend time with wolves and learn about them as well. One of the things we do is invite ranchers to this event so that we can hear their point of view. Clearly, wolves can be a threat to their livestock and there are times where ranchers shoot wolves to protect their way of life.
It is amazing what happens to hardened prejudices when people meet in person and share their viewpoints. Wolf advocates think they should never be shot. Ranchers oftentimes feel differently. But instead of yelling at each other, we talked about nonlethal methods of defending herds of cattle and sheep against wolves. In a word, we talked “compromise.”
Imagine that one moment a day we do the same in another arena. If I support one opinion on an issue and you support the opposite view, what would happen if we talked on the phone about it? What if instead of beating the hell out of each other on social media we had a conversation and let each other speak.
While we may not agree afterwards, we may begin to understand “Why” someone thinks the way they do and begin to open ourselves up to the possibility of compromise and connection.