Listening With an Open Mind


Michael Kleeman, News Editor

It seems that every day that goes by, people become more and more divided politically, socially, and in all of their views. While it would be naïve to think that everyone can get along, it is important to recognize that part of living together in a family, school, or even country, is the ability to respect and listen to other people’s opinions.

Since the start of this election, people have been more and more dedicated to the political process and political activism, which is a good thing. However, it is important that we don’t get so wrapped up in our views that we become insulated in our own ideas, and become closed-minded.

I believe that in order to create a better future, we need be exposed to many different ideas. But like every conversation, it is equally as important to listen, as it is to speak. However, it seems as though people have become so interested in sharing their own beliefs that they neglect their obligation to listen to others, myself included. We squander an opportunity to learn new ideas and expand our minds, and instead we become completely dedicated (“loyal”) to what we already know. All this does is limit our intellectual growth, and leads to a discussion vacant of any true insights.

Worst of all though, is when people use shaming tactics to shut down discourse, or when people react physically to someone’s views. You may not like what someone has to say, but that does not mean you should initiate force against him or her. Instead, we need to restore discussion, something that has been lost in these tumultuous times.

I think that it is important that we remember that the person we are talking to is a person, just like us. We may disagree with their views, but that doesn’t make them a bad person, and I think there is a danger to assigning an ulterior motive to their beliefs or judging someone’s character based on their political leanings, or worse, their religious creeds.

In short, I think that people need to keep an open mind, and not be afraid to listen to ideas that differ from their own. We need to return to a sentiment found in Voltaire’s most famous quote, “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

So let’s keep an open mind in 2017, and let’s restore rational discussion back to the forefront of our lives.