Learning to communicate on the issues

We need to learn how to have conversations about “the issues.” Every week it seems like there is something new taking over social media, everybody is pledging support, lots of people are making really good (sometimes conflicting) points, and others are telling people to stop talking and start doing. Here is my question: when does jumping into something without facts or a plan ever end up being helpful?

Do not take this the wrong way, but I am pleased that I’m still seeing posts about the Stanford incident in light of the new shooting in Orlando. I am pleased because it means that we can recognize that multiple issues can be simultaneously important to us. One may hit closer to home, one may be something we are naturally more invested in, but they are both actually current issues that need attention.

The post regarding Stanford that stayed with me the longest was in fact about having a conversation with adolescents about respecting others. It was not about treating women properly. It was not about learning what consent means. It was about learning how to treat another person with respect, to look out for people when they might be in trouble, etc. The post acknowledged that we need to be on a higher level than “rape.” We need to be on a higher level than, “what was I supposed to do?” We need to be on the level where we look at individuals and see nothing but another person who deserves every ounce of respect that we give ourselves, and maybe a little bit more.

Now, everybody is upset because the biggest mass shooting in US history was at a targeted group. Exactly what mass shooting doesn’t target a group? No matter how big or small the group is, mass shootings have targets. They have intention. They have malice. Don’t get me wrong, I am very upset that a group who has experienced progress in recent years now feels like they’re back before they began. It’s not fair, it’s not respectful.

I do not care what your religious views are. I do not care in which country you were born. I do not care what your gender identity is, nor do I care if that matches your biological identity. I do not care what your sexual preferences are. Do you know why? Because once you strip away all of those things we are the same. You are a person, I am a person. I respect you, you respect me. This is the world and attitude we need to move towards. Anything less is far from acceptable.

There will always be evil people in the world, all we can do is teach those immediately around us when jokes are going to far. Be vocal when we are uncomfortable about something. Show that we have feelings worthy of recognition. Learn how to accept others’ harmless choices because they deserve to be happy to. Learn how to help people who are in trouble, because they do not deserve to be a victim.

There is nothing we can do to stop what has already happened. We can only prevent others from making the same mistakes. What you write on social media today may or may not have an effect on others. Regardless, if you have something to say do not feel obligated to keep quiet. Respect other people no matter who they are or how well you know them. People are people, there is no way around it. There is no convincing yourself otherwise. There is no “she/he deserved it because…”. There is NONE OF THIS. People are people. Respect other people.

3 thoughts on “Learning to communicate on the issues

  1. On the news today they were interviewing a reformed radical extremist. He said that he was having a conversation with a person one time, and he really liked this person. At the end of the conversation, that man said “by the way, I’m gay” and the extremist had a revelation that this man was still a human being, not something different. He said it helped change the way he viewed the world. I thought that story was relevant to your post about respecting others as people, rather than just their beliefs.

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    1. It’s a really fundamental concept to me– why is it that we let one minority or a group of minorities who screwed up one time define our perception of the group? You can look at me in my picture and see that I am a black woman. You cannot look at me and see that I am a well-spoken PhD student who plans on going places. This “branding” needs to end!

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