One opinion to rule them all?
October 4, 2013
Differing opinions don’t have to rule your attitude
Here’s the thing: I believe that there are very few reasons to be rude to someone. There are very few reasons to insult someone. I’m guilty of both, and I know that everyone is, but there’s a line somewhere that represents simple human decency and when that line is crossed, I get upset.
You can dislike people, sure. You can dislike their beliefs, their choices, their lifestyle, or their physical appearance. Opinions exist. I understand and fully accept this. However, it must be understood that opinions do not equal right and wrong. There is no universal black and white. None whatsoever. Life is full of shades of grey that are dictated by the opinions of societies and cultures. Now, people can believe in absolute right and wrong, but those beliefs are usually based in something like religion or philosophy. Oftentimes they’re based solely on personal experience. All of these things are perfectly okay. Whatever you believe in—whatever gets you through the day and makes your life happier—is worthwhile.
But the fact is there are hundreds of thousands of different religions and philosophies in our world, and every human experience is different. Thus, the things we each see as good and bad overlap in some places, blur in others, and contrast starkly in the rest, creating a moral palette that, when applied to the world, looks not unlike the wraith-world that Frodo sees when he puts on the One Ring. (And it’s almost equally as scary. Unfortunately, that’s life.)
Should we shun those whose blacks and whites are different from our own, or belittle them, or call them names? No. If you can accept the simple fact that people think differently, then you need to acknowledge those differences and take them into account. You don’t have to like them or adopt them yourself, but you need to try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective and understand where they’re coming from.
Yet, as I mentioned earlier, there are times when I get upset. And I get most upset when someone’s ‘good deed’ results in the pain of another human being. If there is no remorse for the injury of another human being, I admit my first instinct is to requite the injuries. But this is where communication is essential. If said someone’s ‘good deed’ comes from the belief that they are doing good, how can I be upset with them? If they truly think that their behavior serves the betterment of those around them, where is their fault? Without communication, without reciprocating thoughts and feelings, we’re trapped in Frodo’s wraith-world of miscommunication and blurred lines.
Ultimately, I don’t ask for an eight-step process in which you evaluate the actions of everyone you meet to determine whether or not they are morally sound. Of course not. I just ask that you don’t let your opinion of someone dictate your behavior towards him or her. And I ask you be thoughtful in your consideration of others’ actions. Don’t be cruel or condescending. Be polite. Be civil. Save face. Whatever you need to do – don’t ruin their day. All I ask is for decent human beings. Why should there be anything else?