Open communication is the most important thing in any relationship. Anyone married couple or councilor will tell you that. Our ability to communicate so completely is a lot of what separates us from the apes. We can talk. We can read body language. Hell when we know someone well enough we can almost read their minds.
So when did communication and conversations become so toxic? When did it become, “Think like me or you’re evil!”? This is true in personal relationships, public affairs, and just about any way that people interact at all.
Social Media is obviously the worst. People sit behind their keyboards and talk so much crap it’s ridiculous. Names are called, threats are spewed, and nothing is accomplished. I was raised in the Boston area, so I was always pretty liberal. I also went to public college and studied in the soft subjects of History and Poli-sci, so I’ve made a lot of liberal friends. I’ve also made some conservative friends. I always loved debating them. I’m one of those people that likes confrontation to a point… especially when I think I’m right… but I also LOVE to learn new things when it turns out that I’m wrong.
My first History class in college I had the best professor. He was this little Joe Pesci looking guy who came in on the first day, climbed up on his desk, and said, “I’m from the toughest borough in the toughest city and I’m not taking any crap from any of you.”. It scared or confused some of the kids in the class but I thought it hilarious. He made history fun. He told stories about the past like he was talking about a book or a movie character. He added details and opinions and made me want to learn more.
One day he was talking about politics and said that one needed to pick a side. You couldn’t be “undeclared” as we call it in Massachusetts. You had to pick, Republican or Democrat, that was the only way to get anything done. I thought he was wrong. That seemed like the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. I sat in my classroom, listening to this teacher that I had adored and admired and thought was so smart and I completely disagreed with everything that he was saying, and for some that may have made them question their own beliefs, but for me if just made them stronger. I loved my professor. I agreed with him on so much.. but not everything. I didn’t have to. I was allowed to disagree with him, and I was allowed to respect him. That was the best lesson I could have ever learned from college.
I post crap all over social media. For a long time, especially after Trump was elected I posted a lot of Liberal media. My friends on the right would comment or critique and I would chat back with them inquiring on why they disagreed and what they thought may be a better idea. My left friends would jump on with insults and disparaging remarks and I would shut them down and tell them that I would not allow them to insult my friends. Even the ones that I disagreed with. I earned some respect from the right for that.
Now, I am a centrist. I completely agree with a lot of what the Liberals say, and I completely disagree with a lot of what they say. I completely agree with a lot of what conservatives say, and I completely disagree with a lot of what conservatives say. I still continue to post articles and videos to my page. I still continue to ask questions and debate my friends, and I still continue to shut down anyone who throws insults at those who disagree.
I am not a Liberal. I am not a Conservative. I am a person who loves to talk about what I feel with others and listen to them in return. I am constantly changing. I am constantly growing. I am constantly learning new things. I don’t believe that anyone who has other’s best interests at heart should be labeled as evil or a fascist or anything else. I don’t believe anyone should be canceled for anything that they say… even the evil and the fascists. Without open conversations and debate no one will be able to learn. No one will be able to grow.
What ever happened to conversations? And how can we learn without them?