It feels like there is a lot of taking sides happening in society. Whether you are pro-covid mandates or against them, either politically left or right, you are either this or that. It’s like you have to wholeheartedly agree with one side and cannot have neutrality or have one belief from one side but also a belief from a different side. Even when it comes to what people eat it feels like you must take a side, are you a meat eater or a plant powered vegan? Life is more like a spectrum, and we can fluctuate on that spectrum. Our world has become so divisive. You are either on one side of an extreme or the other and we label people based on those extremes.
For example, I call myself a “flexitarian”. I eat plant based whenever I can and appreciate those who can make it a full time lifestyle. However, I have a B12 deficiency and cutting out meat would mean a daily injection and a long list of supplements. I also live with meat eaters and don’t always have control over my meal for the day. Yet, I still do my best to eat plant based food when I can. I can appreciate those who choose to be 100% plant based and those who have a love of meat eating. I may not understand or agree with other perspectives, but I can still feel respect for the person. Everyone is doing what they feel is best for themselves and trying to get by in this world. It can feel hard to have a conversation with someone about something you disagree on but maybe you’d be surprised at potential commonalities. Or by having that tough conversation, maybe you will grow your understanding, or the other person might be able to see your perspective better. Calling someone mean names has never made someone change their mind. What makes people understand and respect each other, is communication and positive regard.
Share your perspective and listen to the perspectives of others, you’d be surprised to find out that you won’t explode if you have a conversation with someone you disagree with. It might make you angry and upset but maybe having the discussion instead of name calling will help that person understand more about your perspective and vice versa. I don’t want to live in a world where everyone agrees with exactly my perspectives. I would never be challenged to grow or think differently about a situation. I have learned so much from people I disagree with. I have learned what I want to work towards. It has helped me acknowledge my personal goals and values. If I didn’t have those conversations that challenged me, I probably wouldn’t be pursuing counseling or an advocate.
Now, I understand that at times taking sides is going to be inevitable. Some issues we just wholeheartedly agree on and there is no room for agreement with the opposition. When it comes to things like oppression, racism, I acknowledge that there is no grey zone. Sometimes we are just too passionate about a topic. There are times when we do not have the energy to have a certain discussion and it is okay to walk away. But for those conversations that you do have the energy for, hear what people have to say when they disagree with you and find out why they feel that way. You may find that you have more in common than you previously thought, or you might realize that the perspective of the other isn’t as extreme as you thought. Everyone has their reasons for their choices and beliefs, if we can listen to those reasons, we can learn a lot about how to heal, find compromise, and work towards change.