On the Huffington Post, Kayla Chadwick wrote a piece titled, I don’t know how to explain to you that you should care about other people (HT: A Force For Good blog).
In it, she lists some things she is willing to do to help others, like paying an extra 17 cents for a Big Mac ‘if it means the person making it for’ her ‘can afford to feed their own family.’
In that respect, I was once like Kayla. I believed things were as straightforward as that.
But, in another respect, I wasn’t like Kayla. She also writes:
I cannot have political debates with these people. Our disagreement is not merely political, but a fundamental divide on what it means to live in a society, how to be a good person, and why any of that matters.
By ‘these people’, she means folks who disagree with her.
That’s something I’ve always enjoyed, having discussions with folks who disagree with me.
It’s a good thing, too, because instead of assuming I was right about everything and anyone who disagreed with me was wrong, I listened and learned.
It wasn’t always comfortable and easy and and agreement wasn’t reached instantaneously and sometimes never at all.
But, I come away feeling comfortable that I understand my opponent’s argument and why I disagree with it.
I think that is very important, because if I stay bunkered in a way of thinking that leads me to support things that hurt the people that I wanted to help, then what good is it?
It might make me feel good that my intentions are pure and honest. It may also garner acceptance among others who think like me.
But, what does that matter, if I’m wrong? Is feeling good about myself and being accepted more important than actually helping the people I want to help?
I don’t think so.
That’s why I feel it’s important to not only listen to those who disagree with you, but gain an understanding of why they feel the way they do. That way you can clearly say why you agree or disagree and feel more confident that you are being true to your intentions, that is, helping (instead of hurting) the folks you want to help.
Asserting those who disagree with you don’t care about others isn’t an argument. It’s a fallacy. But, it serves the same purpose as bunkering yourself into your beliefs. It makes YOU feel better. Which, in my opinion, is even more selfish than the folks she criticizes.