I may not like what you have to say . . . but I respect your right to say it

By Erika Gill, Reflection –

Erika col headWe live in an extremely tumultuous time. We reside in a society that is both highly

sensitive and grossly insensitive, with double standards and ignorant people who just won't shut

their mouths.

I find it absolutely liberating and lovely that we are able to say just about whatever we

want and can express our opinions to the fullest without being thrown in prison or killed.

In many countries, a person’s view on the world is snuffed out by the dictatorship and

evilness of others. We are so lucky to have a privilege that is denied to many, and yet we take

advantage of this, myself included.

One of the beautiful things about college is that we walk in with all of our varied

opinions and are able to enter into friendly, intellectual combat with students who may believe

the opposite.

We are able to have our beliefs tested and perhaps end up leaving with other perspectives

we never once thought of.

Yet it is extremely frustrating when some students feel the need to belittle and cut down

their classmates, just because they don’t like their view on something, or simply don't understand

it.

This kind of self-absorbed attitude makes it harder on shy or sensitive people who are

already afraid to speak up. Those people make others feel that their opinions don't matter.

The truth is, they do matter. What we believe shapes who we are, and it is simply not fair

to prevent someone from sharing that.

People are going to say offensive and disgusting things, and they are going to spew out

thoughts that are appalling or just plain unmindful. Some perceptions are going to make us angry

and others are going to make us scratch our heads in bewilderment.

However, it is motivating and should light the fire under us to challenge their opinions

with our own. Iowa Rep. Steve King recently made several benighted comments about how we

as a country need to stop trying to rebuild Western civilization with “somebody else's babies”

(referring to minorities and whites procreating, as well as minorities and immigrants).

When asked to clarify what he meant, he responded that he meant exactly what he said.

His comments were ridiculous and made in poor taste, yet I am glad he said what he thinks

because it gives us the invitation to either throw his thoughts to the wolves or validate him.

I have always been timid in my convictions because I am terrified of the idea of someone

disagreeing with me and receiving a verbal beatdown as a result. I oftentimes will listen to what

others have to say, and only speak up if my opinion is one of the same. How ludicrous is that?

Yes, I don't want to step on toes and confrontation stinks, but speaking our own truths

gives others the go-ahead to do the same. Just like we may not share the same tastes in music or

movie genres, we may not hold the same values or beliefs. We are free to both agree and

disagree with each other, and that is evidence of a colorful and versatile world.

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