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Letter to the Editor: Finding common ground on conflicting beliefs will create harmony among disagreement

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Paraic King

Paraic King

Paraic King

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In the context of an evermore polarizing world exacerbated by social media echo chambers singing to their own tunes, what can we do to find harmony with our fellow humans?  First, we need to decide if singing together is indeed a goal worth striving for.  Maybe you think some people are just too dang horrible, or that what they’re singing about is so bad that you’d never want to mix your voice with theirs and may even want to stop them from singing at all.  Well before dismissing or silencing the “other” quite yet, take a moment to think about the World Choir you want to hear.  Is it a choir of cacophony where each section sings it’s own tune in its own key.  Is it monotonous unison where everybody sings the same note without variation. Or is it a multi-layered dynamic choir of call and response, the interplay between consonance and dissonance, tension and release.  Individually we may not be able to change the tune of the whole world but we can certainly make it more or less harmonious by changing the immediate worlds we navigate through daily.  

So how to go about singing along with those who you see as the “other side”?  Try singing in their key for a moment.  Take a specific issue that you may feel strongly about one way or the other whether it’s guns, abortion, the existence of God, immigration etc., then try to make the best argument you can for the opposite of what you believe.  Read an article or ten arguing the other side. Put yourself in the mindset of someone who strongly believes something you disagree with and contemplate why they would hold that belief.  Imagine for a moment that their intentions are good, that they want the same fundamental things out of life but because of one reason or another they have different tendencies, inclinations, backgrounds and tastes.  You can try out your argument with a close friend in a respectful discussion with the Devil’s Advocate disclaimer, defend the opposite argument anonymously in an online forum, write a thorough list of cons for all your pros or simply think about it to yourself.

 This might seem sacrilegious, uncomfortable or just plain wrong, but consider the benefits.  Perhaps nothing you read or considered from the other point of view will have been convincing but at least you’ll be familiar with those arguments and be able to pick them apart in a debate rather than resorting to name calling or just dismissing them.  If you understand the other’s argument well enough to express it as they would, then your argument might be more convincing to them because they might take the time to consider your point of view as you have considered theirs.  You may still totally disagree with their argument but now be able to see why they think what they do and realize they are at least reasonable, even if for reasons you disagree with.  Who knows, maybe you might actually consider some valid points you had never considered and change your own point of view?  In any case, momentarily stepping out of the echo chambers (which all of us are into one degree or another) and really listening is a good first step toward reining in a bit of the current chaos, finding harmony and creating something nice for the world to hear.

Paraic King can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @theorion_news.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Letter to the Editor: Finding common ground on conflicting beliefs will create harmony among disagreement”

  1. Meagan on April 18th, 2018 9:10 am

    Thank you. I do this all the time, and I feel alienated from those who don’t…I need to do this exercise about “people who don’t value seeing someone else’s viewpoint”! So meta!

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Letter to the Editor: Finding common ground on conflicting beliefs will create harmony among disagreement