I have been marinating on this thought for a while now, though I am still unsure whether my point is going to make sense or not.
**As always, even if you disagree with my position below, PLEASE be kind!!! These are only MY thoughts, and they don't make me any more right, wrong, great, or worse, than anyone else. I am still a PERSON, and I still have feelings (and pretty sensitive ones, at that).**
While I am a very openly opinionated person, I try and still respect others' positions, even if I disagree with them, or their views. Sometimes, yes, this is very hard! Sometimes I wish I could just take the person and shake them, and make them understand that I think what they are saying, doing, or believing is completely ludacris. But yet, I try and continue to agree to disagree, because I am beginning to recognize that for every standpoint I passionately stand by, there is someone on the other side with an equally valid standpoint, that they are equally committed to believing in, whether I agree with it or not.
I guess I am talking mainly about issues pertaining to politics and personal choices, but I think it can apply to just about anything. The problem I am observing more and more, is this notion that if someone else's viewpoint doesn't match your own, its automatically stupid, or to be disrespected, devalidated, ridiculed, and hated. The hurtful thing about this mindset is that it makes enemies out of otherwise decent people. It drives a person to hate another human being, or collective group of people, based on their own personal convictions. We all have personal convictions, and even if the other person's conflicting convictions feel hurtful or hateful toward you personally, unless directed at you individually, to lash out and fight that ONE person or group of people, is to perpetuate hate and hurt in this world. Which is just plain wrong.
One example of this is Fox News. I know there are thousands upon thousands of people who love O'Reilly and Hannity and the whole gang, and I can respect that, but all I ever hear out of their mouths are hurtful words. (Agree to disagree.) I don't personally tune in to Fox News, but my husband does, so I hear it in the background, and usually end up either yelling at the TV or walking out of the room (or walking out of the room AFTER yelling at the TV). One time, I caught Hannity saying the President - not his politics, but him AS A PERSON - stupid! I'm sorry, I take issue with that!! Even if Hannity doesn't agree with President Obama - which, I think its clear, he doesn't - to call him AS A PERSON stupid (on national TV, no less!), rather than attacking his POLITICAL POSITION, is rude, unkind, and disrespectful!!! If he wants to disagree with the President's policies, fine. That is his human and American right (free speech and free press), and he is more than entitled to voice it. However, attacking Obama the person...not okay in my eyes. My guess is, if Hannity actually MET and spent time with Obama, he would find some common ground with him, and come to some level of respect for him. I mean, its not like Obama is a serial killer or anything. I am fairly convinced that, as a person, Obama is probably a nice guy. Just because his POLITICAL or PERSONAL choices differ, doesn't mean he is due any less respect, or to be hated. For Hannity, or anyone else, to make an enemy of Obama as a person is not justified or warranted.
Then, on the other side of the political spectrum, is the issue with Miss California. Perez Hilton may disagree with her position - and as a gay man, I can fully understand how he would disagree with her position in a VERY personal way - but nevertheless, he should have listened to her reasons, and respectfully agreed to disagree with her. For him to spread hate toward the PERSON she is, is wrong!! Again, I am sure she is a very nice individual, and if Perez put the politics aside and got to know her, would probably like the person she is. Or at the very least, respect her. I would venture to say that, had he not known how she felt about gay marriage rights, that he would have liked her just fine. But instead, he chose to spread so much hatred about her as a person, based on one issue she believes passionately about. My point being, just as passionately as Perez believes he's right, she, on the opposite side, believes just as strongly that she is. Just because her views don't line up with his, doesn't make her a hateful person, and doesn't make her deserving of the hatred of others, and certainly shouldn't have influenced whether or not she got the Miss America title. Had she gotten any other question, she probably would be our reigning Miss America. To have been stripped of that opportunity, essentially by ONE PERSON, for voicing her differing, "unpopular" opinion, was unjust, in my opinion. (Again, agree to disagree.)
On a larger scale, I see sooo much bashing of the Repubs by the Dems, and the Dems by the Repubs (and honestly, more by the latter, in my opinion, but whatever). Passionate Democrats begin to hate the collective group of all Republican voters, and vice-versa.
Personally, and this is only MY opinion, I try and respect anyone and everyone who is bold enough to voice their opinions, stand firmly by them, and defend them in a MATURE AND RESPECTFUL manner. Even if I disagree with you, I give you props for being smart enough to form your own opinions and fight for them. But what I cannot, will not, under any circumstances, tolerate, is when false enemies are made; when people go "witch hunting," slandering, spreading lies, hurting, and hating people on a personal level, rather than disagreeing with the position, but still respecting the person.
Its like this. I am a Christian, but there's more to me than that. I am a Libertarian, but there's more to me than that. I am a mother, but there is more to me than that. I am a wife, but there is more to me than that. I am a pastry chef, but there is more to me than that. I don't like beets or green olives, but there is more to me than that. I am afraid of the dark and my basement, but there is more to me than that... Get the point? To zero in on the one or two things that I am or that I believe in that you disagree with, is to miss out on the whole person that I am. I am multi-faceted, as is everyone. Truthfully, there are probably things I dislike or disagree with in just about everyone I know, but I don't zero in on it. I try to look at them as the whole person, and focus on what I do like and the common ground we do have. And while I may not know much about people like Perez Hilton, Miss California, President Obama, or even Hannity, I try to respect them, knowing that Perez being gay, Miss C being against gay marraige based on her Christian beliefs, President Obama being a Democrat, or Hannity being a highly-opinionated Republican, doesn't define who they are as a person - that there is more to who they are.
So, my point in all this, if it hasn't already been made, is that we shouldn't make enemies based on someone's belief. There is more to the person, so there is more to the story, and most people are genuinely kind and well-intentioned, even if they believe the polar opposite from us. People are people; they are flawed, and sometimes maybe even flat-out wrong, in our eyes, for the things they believe, but we still need to afford them respect. To discount and disrespect people based on their beliefs is shallow, and its making enemies where we shouldn't. If you dispute a belief, then dispute the IDEA, not the person/people group. If you feel passionately about gay rights, for example, then fight for (or against, as the case may be) it! If you are pro-life (or pro-choice), then fight for it! Vote, protest, picket, donate, sign petitions...whatever you need to do to make your voice heard! But fight to change the MINDS of people, don't fight the people.
Have I made my point?!