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Please Stop Assuming the Worst About Others

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Lots of people are complaining about public debate, saying that Americans don’t get along more than ever. This may or may not be true. It certainly seems that way, if you try to gauge debates by reading internet comments, and when it’s so obvious that politicians put the success of their party over the success of the nation.

Regardless, there’s a simple solution I think everyone (including myself of course, as I am a part of everyone) can do to improve things. Here’s the idea:

Stop assuming the worst about people you disagree with.

Stop assuming the worst about people you disagree with.

It sounds almost too simple, almost childish. Maybe it is, but when the discussion is childish, it’s time to go back to basics. For example, here’s an excerpt from a discussion about guns that can be seen almost anywhere guns are debated:

“I think guns are important for securing our freedom and personal safety.”
“You obviously have a small penis and/or have seen too many action films.”

Inverted:

“I think guns are an over-reaction to real fears and impractical for civil change.”
“You obviously hate freedom and prefer living in a police state.”

Some people are horrible and full of hate, yes. Some high profile people are paid to support certain viewpoints. Some people are jerks. Some people ignore facts or are ignorant of them. All true.

All I suggest is that we don’t start there. Don’t begin with those negative assumptions or immediately diagnose some disturbing underlying psychology as their motivation. You might get there eventually, but if you begin there, there’s no hope for connection. Start with a more probable assumption: that someone has a reason for feeling as they do, that they have given the matter at least some thought, melded it with their experience, blended it with what they believe are the facts and arrived at a conclusion of varying solidity, as you have.

Maybe the pro-gun person was a child when an intruder came into their home and it terrified them (as it would to anyone.) Maybe the anti-gun person lost someone to a suicide. On and on.

You lose your humanity when you fail to see humanity in others. We can all do better than that. Thanks.

Included below is a social-media-ready meme for you. Share as you see fit.

stop assuming worst pic

 

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