Honey and Vinegar

A dozen years ago, I signed my oldest child up for rec soccer. I also volunteered to coach, and I was stunned to find out that the league required no training for referees, and that it required teams to have offensive players and defensive players. It wasn’t soccer. It was a strange form of kickball. I let the parks and rec people know how wrong they were, sent them examples of other rec leagues’ rules, and suggested we make changes to keep up with them.

In short, I was right.

But I was also insufferable. I managed to alienate an unfortunate number of people who might have been amenable to a better way of doing things if I had remembered that it is never enough to be right. If you can’t convince other people you’re right, you might as well be wrong.

I overheard a conversation in the hallway today in which a conservative student expressed frustration with being mocked for supporting Pres. Trump.

I’m sorry to hear that. It’s one thing to take a classmate to task in a policy debate. It’s another to berate her for being conservative.

Many of those who protest the President’s words and policies are well meaning. They can point to his lapses in judgment, his Supreme Court nominations, his dismantling of the EPA, his potentially treasonous dealings with Russians, his naive dealings with dictators, his inability to appreciate differences in time zones–the list of reasons to be frustrated with Trump is so long that Stephen Colbert will never need to fear unemployment. Those who support the President have just as easy a time ridiculing the left. Consider the idiocracy at Reed College, pampered students who demand trigger warnings, the demonstrable growth in the economy despite the left’s doomsday predictions.

I’m giving you straw men here, of course. My point is this: the left and the right currently talk at each other, rather than with each other. It may feel good to describe the President (or Bernie Sanders) as a mouth-breathing idiot. However, such language only divides groups farther. Effective communication, in most circumstances, should bring us together. (There are historical examples of absolutes being the best way to proceed. I argue they are the exceptions rather than the rule.)

Politics is defined as the art of compromise–which means that each side has to find something to give, and something to give up, when crafting a vision of the future. Those who enter into political discussions should consider what they’re willing to give up before they open their mouths. Otherwise there can be no progress.

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25 Responses to Honey and Vinegar

  1. Geneva says:

    As children we do this. We talk without considering the other persons point of view. Before automatically try to put down another persons belief or spouting out our own, we should understand the reasoning behind a persons belief and figure out a way to present our thoughts in a respectful manner. For example, Mr. Eastering could have suggested a new way of playing soccer that was efficient and indicated all the pros of playing it that way – without the critism and without the comparison of another rec that degraded that recs policies. After all, the recs reasoning for playing it in such an unusual manner could have been because they were uninformed. Also, people tend not to respond well to outsiders telling them what to do, so in order for a message to really get a cross we must approach in a respectful, nonjudgemental manner.

  2. Alicia Argrett says:

    In most regards, I agree with the statement about learning to listen and acknowledgments rather than waiting to refute. When the topic of politics arises, people often act like it’s their birthright to defend their opinions, however, political conversations conducted poorly are massive wastes of time. I personally have engaged in conversations that ended before they even began. Closemindedness and hostility were woven throughout exchanges instead of acknowledgment. Should I have to beg someone that I am having a conversation with to treat said conversation with respect? If I even have to ask myself that, there is no point. Not to mention, politics in itself is a draining topic, and I feel that people not willing to listen to alternative opinions should not engage in political discussion.

  3. Jane says:

    A while back, my old European History teacher made a similar remark. In his opinion, we need to focus more on listening to what others have to say even if it didn’t necessarily agree with our own ideals. He made references to how philosophes of the past fought for our right of freedom of speech (“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”) and pointed out that the best way to deal with controversy is to listen. Learn what your opponent has to say and why they believe in those ideals, then, use your own words to explain your own thoughts. Branding controversies such as ‘hate speech’ and throwing their comments under the rug facilitates little conversation, and to my former teacher, violated principles that were hard earned. To some extent, I agree with this philosophy. I think it’s important to hear out a variety of opinions, even if I personally believe that the other person is incorrect. I also believe it’s a necessity if we want to live peacefully with other people on this planet.

  4. Emily Penton says:

    This is the reason I don’t tend to speak in public political converstations because no matter what your beliefs are, you get degraded. It’s sad that in today’s time we can’t have opinions without being berated, but everyone is preaching to speak your mind and share your beliefs. However, if they aren’t what they think they should be you get yelled at and told you are wrong. It’s so hard to form a voice now because it seems like more and more your voice gets taken away from you, especially if your from little ole’ Mississippi.

  5. Erin says:

    While I don’t support Trump, I feel that the student should not have been attacked because they like and/or agree with what he says or does. I’m not sure what circumstances the student was under to bring up their political views, I’m sure he or she was not trying to force the opposing party to support him as a president. What people support politically is based solely on what they like or don’t like in a politician. Sometimes when people meet others who do not agree with them or do not support what they support, they automatically try to push people to side with them and/or agree with them.

  6. Katie Steil says:

    To simply call each other names and degrade an argument is not progressive in the slightest. This childish behavior is more likely to further divide those who are debating. Instead of being open-minded and willing to listen to others, it is likely that these situations will just become heated. At the moment when someone’s viewpoints are threatened, he or she tends to become very defensive and refuses to accept anything other than what he or she already believes. This stubbornness creates very distinct groups, and the people within them often ignore all other points of view and any thoughts of compromise. Thusly, nothing will be accomplished.

  7. Zoe Holdiness says:

    To insult others on their political party, is an insult to oneself. You are not just hurting someone else, but you are degrading the image of yourself. People choose to say what comes to mind without really thinking about how it may affect the other person. The quote “Think before you speak” is commonly advertised in school hallways, and it is often overlooked. When in reality it should be something that everyone here at the MSMS has learned. If not, we are all mature enough to find a sense of common courtesy. If someone was to openly express how they feel about a political party, and you do not happen to agree with their views and/or beliefs, be considerate. Show the same respect that you would want if it were you were the one expressing your views on the subject. Listening just to argue is no way to have a civil conversation with someone. Being viewed as a decent human being, is so much better than to be viewed as a person that is inconsiderate on how their words and actions affect the people around them.

  8. Karoline McLure says:

    To get anywhere in a political debate, you must have patience. Sometimes people will misinterpret your statements. You must know how to explain clearly and patiently without sounding condescending or getting upset. On another note, I often find that a person is much more likely to listen to you in an open-minded manner if you acknowledge one of their viewpoints (ex. Yes, but…). Even saying something like “I understand why you would think that because xyz, but….,” can make them a lot more willing to compromise. If either of you gets angry, it’s likely the discussion will get nowhere. Furthermore, it’s much better if you stick to facts. Providing unbiased factual information to support your viewpoints will get you much farther than just using your own opinions or resorting to insults.

  9. Respect is Key says:

    I feel that respect is key in these situations. You will prove your incompetence rather than your knowledge if you are not respectful during disagreements or debates. No matter what circumstances the student was in, she most certainly should NOT have been subject to ridicule for her political stance. If anyone were to have a problem with it, they should have taken her in a debate not just disrespected her.

  10. Whitney Fairley says:

    When it comes to political views people tend to be pretty opinionated. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in your own views and not even consider anyone else’s views or opinions. In general a good rule of thumb for being exposed to things that you may not like or agree with is to come into the situation with an open mind. There is a pretty common saying that goes some things never change. In history, in order to evoke any type of positive change leaders had get people that didn’t agree with their views to have an open mind about what they were trying to change. This same mindset needs to be seen more in politics. It is never acceptable to try to degrade an idea or a group of people that have an idea because it isn’t something that you might not agree with. It is always good to have respect for other people no matter what.

  11. Rachel says:

    Differing political views often spark heated arguments in which both the ideas and the people presenting the ideas are attacked. Ad hominem should be avoided in such debates so that progress could be made. A major problem in this society is that people are not willing to listen to what the other side has to say before asserting their own ideas and opinions. This creates great amounts of discord, which furthers the gap between the two sides. I agree that when addressing certain issues, both sides should be heard fully, and a compromise should be met in order for those with the power to improve, solve, or create solutions for those who elected them.

    Growing up, my parents had always said to me this: “no pain, no gain.” The statement has stuck to me for a while, and I realize that it could be applied to this particular issue. Politicians need to understand that the citizens elected them so that they could bring change to the society, not to sit in huge rooms and argue for weeks on whether or not assisted suicide or abortion should be legal or illegal. If they spend all their time vituperating one another rather than discussing professionally about the concerns of the people and how to solve them, nothing can be accomplished. In most situations, sacrifices have to be made on both ends in order for anything to change. This can also apply to our everyday lives. We, as young adults, often have arguments with other people, and most of the time, they result in a greater gap between the sides. We must learn to listen, to think, and to express our ideas in a non-degrading way so that a compromise can be reached.

  12. Sophie Tipton says:

    As much as everyone should be entitled to their own opinion, unless you hear people out on what they may have to say on a given topic, jumping straight to “You’re wrong” would never be the best answer. This is one of the big problems we prefacing in society, nobody gets heard out or given a fair chance to explain themselves. If people decided to actually listen to each other instead of only agreeing with their opinion, we probably wouldn’t have as many issues as we do today. While even I am guilty of going straight to judging people, just as most are, for what they say, believe, think, act, or even dress and like, this is only separating groups and dividing people apart. Imagine how it would be if the discussion of politics didn’t rip people apart. That issue comes mostly from the fact people get berated for their thoughts before they even get to explain why they feel or think that way. Everyone should be given the chance to discuss what they are passionate about respectfully, and if they could, everyone would be in a better situation.

  13. Samaria Swims says:

    Everyone has a right to express their own opinion. It’s called freedom of speech. When ever the topic of politics come up, people argue on what they think is politically correct. People don’t even consider other people’s opinions or ideas. I personally don’t speak on political topics because people argue with me and tell me I’m wrong. People should always respect other people opinions because everyone has a different mindset. No one person thinks exactly the same. I believe people should be open to everyone opinions even if they think it’s wrong. I also believe no one should ever degrade someone because their opinions differ.

  14. Hua Chen says:

    Throughout life, never will there be a point where all agree with one side. Most often than not, deferring points of views lead to rivalry and hostility. People should realize that this is how life is. Not one person will have the same neurological and psychological ways of viewing a topic as another. Judgment shouldn’t be made before understanding the reasonings and conclusions of other individuals. And when judgement is made, it should not be judgmentally expressed. This only leads to others feeling a sense of inferiority and frustration. Everyone should have the right to express their opinions of a topic freely, hence freedom of speech. The listener must not lunge towards opposition within the first signs of difference in standpoints. I am never a person of politics, but applying this to politics, there would rarely be a point where a side is completely right. Politicians have to think in such a mindset stated because they never know what’s to come in a situation. Both sides will always have something to give up for something else they might not approve fully. The young democrat leader and young republican leader of MSMS being friends and roommates a few years ago shows great sense of acknowledgement in perspectives.

  15. Collin says:

    When it comes to politics, everyone tends to be very close-minded. When people engage in a political debate, no one really listens to what the other party is saying. They stick to the belief that they’re opinion is the only opinion and no one should think anything different. This mindset can lead to hostility over a simple argument. Two of my friends stopped talking to each other days after a conversation about if abortion is right. The problem was that they did not contemplate what the other was saying, and the conversation turned into a heated argument. How will we get anything done if we can’t talk about politics in a civil manner.

  16. Ellen Overstreet says:

    It is unfortunate that some of the most intelligent minds in Mississippi can not understand that it is important to listen to other people’s opinions especially when discussing politics. Everyone has a different opinion about what is right and it is easy to start calling others names, but it is important to listen to others when trying to make an argument. Nobody learns anything if the person they are talking to refuses to listen to the other person’s side of the argument. It may be frustrating at times to listen to someone who is completely wrong in your opinion, but you must keep your head and make a logical argument. It is important to go into an argument expecting one of your opinions to change whether it be yours or your opponents, so you must always keep an open mind and accept when you are wrong. If someone says something that you don’t agree with, you must acknowledge their idea while also providing your opinion. If you do not do this, it will sound as though you are just blatantly rejecting their idea and they will not want to listen to what you are saying. Being civil during an argument is key. If you lose your head the person talking to you will not respect you and no one will get anywhere in the conversation, making the discussion pointless.

  17. Jessikah Morton says:

    In a political debate there is always a pro and con side. People in the public choose what side their on by using the knowledge and experiences they have accquired in their life times. For example lets take government aid. People who are rich and can afford health insurance and have no need for governement aid would probably be against the distribution of government aid. People who can’t afford health insurance and other life neccessities would most likely be for the distribution of government aid. If two people shared the opposite veiw of this particular situation no one would be thinking about ways to compromise in having or not having governement aid. They would not be thinking about compromising because all the person, who thinks government aid should be distributed, is thinking about is how he/she is going to get health insurance, food, clothes, and other basic needs without it. The other person would be thinking “what’s the use of government aid, we should be putting money towards more pressing matters”. Because these people live in different circumstances they are not able to see each others veiw and come to a compromise. Just like this student who agrees with Trump’s views and actions and the other students who understand the negative effects of supporting someone who exhibits such behaviors. Both people feel they have defend themselves and what they believe and no one wants to compromise on their view because in a way it’s like you lost. It’s also hard to see the view of being on Trumps side becuase he has done and said a lot of negative things and its hard to support someone like that based on my own moral compass. Not saying that people who do support Trump are without a moral compass it’s just set up a little differently. Basically what I’m trying to say is in order to compromise you have to agree with something the other people have going on. In the case of Donald Trump I personally don’t agree with any of his views so compromise with me specifically just isn’t going to happen.

  18. Anonymous says:

    When presenting a side in any discussion, you must go into the conversation knowing that just as you believe what you say is right or morally correct, the opposing side believes the same thing about their personal opinion. The other day, I was listening to my roommate watch a documentary about the infamous KKK of rural Mississippi and as I was listening, I heard statements that reminded me of this blog post. One of the Klansmen stated how he did not like immigrants, but yet in the documentary he became friends with an immigrant. In doing this, he began to question his belief as a Klansmen, because he realized the amount of hatred he had in his towards other people for no reason. It was on the basis of how he raised and what he was told to believe in, therefore that was all that he knew. My point in this example is that the Klansman changed his perspective, not because the immigrant bashed his beliefs and perspectively “told him off,” but because she presented herself in a manner and proved his beliefs wrong. When handling a discussion where there are differing opinions, the best way to get the point across is to display consideration, yet elaborate and explain your points in a respectful manner. You cannot change the mind of a homophobe by calling him or her out of his or her name, just as if you can’t change the mind of a racist by simply calling him or her racist. Disagreements happen, yes. But that should not be a gateway into deteriorating another persons’ character. If you believe you’re “so” right, prove it with fact and support.

  19. Catherine Li says:

    As someone who participated in Speech and Debate, my view on political arguments has changed immensely. I use to believe that there was only black or white in almost every debate, but after I began debating in tournaments around Mississippi with some other very intelligent students with brilliant arguments and public speaking skills, I realized there is almost always two sides of every story. Becuase in Speech and Debate we are required to write cases for both the pro and con side for each resolution, I have to be able to come up with arguments on each side I agree with and are valid. There are definitely sometimes I feel more strongly about one side than I do the other, but in the actual debate round, I forget and instead argue as if I am 100% for that side. Growing accustomed to this, I have become more open to other arguments that contradict mine because I believe that we can only grow as a society if we are willing to listen to each other. I have learned a lot from the people I have debated and realized there is some validity to the other side, and I am always willing to listen to the other side. It’s important to weigh the facts of both sides and come to a civil conclusion, and even though I have a lot of experience with that, I still have trouble doing that in everyday debates I have in a normal setting.

  20. Mia says:

    The art of making fun of other people’s beliefs has been around for most likely the entirety of human existence, and will probably continue to happen for the rest of human existence. While I do believe that we should always respect other no matter what these beliefs are, I myself am guilty of judging someone based on their political ideology. To me, there are certain issues that I believe in so strongly that if we do not see eye to eye, I probably will not attempt to maintain any kind of relationship with you. But that is my decision. I do believe that we should attempt to respect others despite these differences in beliefs, but anybody should also have the right to dislike you because of those beliefs. We should attempt to actually discuss our beliefs with people that think differently, but at the end of the day, we’re almost to the age that our political opinions aren’t going to change much. You just have to take what people say to you with a grain of salt.

  21. Khytavia Fleming says:

    People are going to have their opinions and that’s just life. I say put yourself in someone else’s position and see how it feels to be talked about and berated because you agree with something different. It’s a free country. People are allowed to believe in whatever they want as long as they don’t try to force their beliefs onto anyone else. Some people who are Trump supporters are not all that bad either. We assume that just because someone supports Trump, that they agree everything he wants done, which isn’t always the case. You don’t have to like their opinions, but you should at least respect them as a person.

  22. Bertha Mireles says:

    Politics in the modern world is a sticker on people’s foreheads that immediately places them under a category accompanied by stereotypical descriptions. People are immediately shut down before they can even open their mouths by their political counterparts. Why? It’s quite simple: people only like to hear what they want to hear. The left and right even have their separate news sources. The clear line between them is troubling. People I know have changed colleges and broken off romantic relationships because of differing political views. It’s truly disgusting how brainwashed people have become that they believe political views are more important than human beings.

  23. Talle says:

    Open-mindedness is essential in any political discussion. Opinions of all kinds are often expressed in “passionate” ways. There is a thin line between respecting someone’s different opinions and respecting someone whose opinions disrespect an entire demographic of people. While I cannot find myself to respect someone who continues to support an open misogynist and bigot, it is wrong to ridicule them. Ridiculing someone doesn’t get your views across more than sitting down to have an intellectual open discussion. You cannot fight fire with fire. People can have their own opinions, no matter how much you may disagree with them.

  24. Zakkaria says:

    Khytavia and Talle, I totally agree with your views on the subject. This takes me back to my freshman year of high school. My Biology teacher had said something I totally was not fond of. But, as stated by Dr.Easterling, if you cannot price your reason for believing your perspective to be right, then you may as well be wrong. That is exactly what my Biology teacher told me, in several other words, though. She explained to me you will not always agree with what a person says/does, but sometimes you just have to agree to disagree, and continue on about your life. Everything is not up for dispute. All disagreements need not trigger extreme arguments. Since then, I’ve tried my best to reason with people on their beliefs and opinions rather than striking them down as wrong. If you’re unable to reason with a person’s perspective, just agree to disagree! People are just as entitled to their beliefs/opinions as you are to yours, and we as people should not believe we have the ethical right to believe everyone who oppose our beliefs are wrong.

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