People have strong feelings about their beliefs, and many see issues as right or wrong. It used to be common sense to stay away from emotionally charged subjects. I understood this during the summer of love when I, a sixteen-year-old Lutheran boy with long hair, was dating a fifteen-year-old Catholic girl whose father was a barber. These differences could have been a problem, but instead, they completely took me off her family's radar. They knew the relationship couldn't work and figured their daughter must be going through a rebellious phase.
How do you deal with someone who is in your face with an opinion, and they label you an idiot if you disagree? Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not to force their belief down your throat. That's merely bullying, and it's happening more and more. The stronger the person's point of view, the louder they talk and fiercer their words. Some things are polarizing, and emotion can override facts, common sense, or respecting others. So what do we do? I guess we can ignore much of it, but sometimes that's not possible.
More than two decades ago, my boss, who was part of HR in a Fortune Top 50 company, took her team out to dinner shortly after a presidential election. Her candidate did not win. She spent most of the night declaring how stupid anyone was who voted against her choice. They were idiots and shouldn't have the right to vote in the first place. She either had no idea she was labeling half of her team as idiots, or she didn't care. Yes, I did say she was part of the Human Relations Department. I didn't speak up because I didn't trust her and knew she could be vindictive. At least she didn't tell me my dog was dumb or that I was lucky my kids didn't look like me.
Today our country is divided by politics. How much of this is driven by the media?
When we had an hour of local and national news in the evening, reporters only had time to report the facts. With 24-hour news on channel after channel, reporters often sell their emotional opinions and try to one-up each other with speculation instead of relying on facts. They see the start of a story and become a prosecutor, jury, and judge of others without knowing the truth of the situation. They care more about headlines than the due process of innocent until proven guilty that every person deserves. As a result, they have lost their credibility, and their ratings are plummeting.
So when someone who is not my boss, is in my face with their opinion and says anyone who disagrees with them is stupid, I smile. They don't want to listen to another person's point of view. They are emotional and want to vent. When the time is right, I ask them about their kids or how it's going at work or about their favorite hobby. One of two things generally happens. They answer my question, and things settle down, or they walk away looking for a new target. Either way, it's an excellent way to move the conversation to neutral ground.
The thoughts above are my opinion, and you are welcome to disagree. By the way, the Catholic girl and I have lived 'happily ever after' for the last 50 years, and my in-laws are wonderful.
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