Respect and understanding are crucial to being open to different points of view

Published by adviser, Author: Michael Santoro - Rocket Contributor, Date: February 3, 2013
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As a new semester falls upon us, we’re taken from a long six week break to the buildings, people and education of college. For some it’s a jarring transition, and for others it’s a breath of fresh air to be back and busy. It’s been a smooth transition for me, and as I return to classes a simple yet interesting ponderence has been floating around in my head. This would be the abundance of opinions, viewpoints and mindsets of all the people that we may or may not come in contact with. I know, sounds a bit silly, but it’s actually a lot to wrap your head around.
We’ll start with a question. How can two people see the same situation and come away with two very differing opinions? For instance, let’s say that I’m riding a bike across the street and suddenly I am struck by a vehicle. Two people saw this. These people are seemingly similar and had near identical vantage points of the incident. One person could say it was due to my own negligence and that I should have watched what was happening around me. The other could say that the driver of the vehicle was at fault, for whatever reason they would have. This is a simple scenario, but I believe it illustrates my point in a simple context.
It’s just mind boggling how so many people can experience identical situations yet feel completely different about the experience. It seems as though nothing is set in stone. It usually isn’t a black-and-white issue, either. Certain things will be agreed upon, certain things will be points of contention, but some may fall into a grey area. For instance, video game violence. There are differing levels of violence depending on the system upon which the game is played, the game itself and what the player chooses to do within the game. Some say “no violence at all,” while others say “let there be as much as the designer wants,” but as I said, it usually isn’t this cut-and-dry. Differing opinions on where the violence takes place, who or what incites the violence, the context of the violence, etc. can exist. Huge discussions and lengthy reports have come to fruition discussing the intricacies of these various facets.
How we’re raised, and our response to the way we’re raised plays a large role. The people who instilled values in us and what those values are shapes the way that we look at and approach the world. It just seems to me that there are so many possibilities in terms of the large number of subjects we can have opinions on. No two people are identical, only similarities may arise. That goes for the respective opinions of the people as well. I’ve never heard of two people believing the same thing on every topic that the people take interest in. That, to me, is just amazing. If you want a differing viewpoint in order for you to analyze something from a different perspective, you really don’t have to go far, especially in our social media/internet age.
This brings me to my last and most important point: the need for understanding and respect. With how many ways there are to look at things, a lot of subjects that we may have stalwart and founded opinions on aren’t set in stone. We need to strive as a nation to try and understand why a certain person believes the way they do. Maybe it’s tucked down deep beneath the surface in a personal way. You don’t necessarily know what the person you’re communicating with has gone through, the good or the bad. Experiences change people, and as I said before, experiences can have profoundly different effects depending on who’s going through them.
After understanding, try a little respect. You don’t want somebody cramming their ideals down your throat, making sure that you believe every one as it goes down. So, out of decency and a meek approach to others, respect that whatever they have gone through has led them to where they are now. Don’t discount discussions, though. Seeing things from a different angle doesn’t necessarily mean that you ascribe to that angle. It means you can remove yourself somewhat from your own opinions so that you can open up your mind. As we go through this spring semester, tuck all this in your brain box. Good luck with classes, and do your best to keep an honest heart, a gentle spirit and a respectful attitude.

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