Take time to teach, converse with each other

“Differences in opinion enrich the diversity of a nation, and ought to be cherished and respected in any free society, provided everyone remains free to disagree with one another and, most importantly, everyone remains open to rational arguments that could change your mind.” — Neil deGrasse Tyson, “Starry Messenger: Cosmic Perspectives on Civilization”

This week, I listened to a podcast that featured Neil deGrasse Tyson as a guest, and I realized I’ve never really sat and listened to his unending list of theories before, nor have I read any of his books, which I have since put on my “to be read” list.

Each approach he took put me into a spiral of thought.

I tried writing in my journal when motivation struck, but then he’d say something else and I stopped all thoughts on that topic to switch focus to the next. I probably should’ve paused the podcast, but the push and pull of information was captivating to me.

In that podcast, his thoughts on a potential conversation about politics stuck with me.

He set the scene by saying one person asks a second person which candidate they are voting for, and, when that second person’s opinion is different than the first person’s, instead of sparking an argument, he said to invite conversation, to ask why, and to be open-minded.

He continued by asking listeners to really imagine that concept, since it’s most likely never the case.

Personally, I’ve never desired to talk about politics the way I know some people do. I think people get too personal with it and would rather attack someone’s opinions than even try to hear them out.

That isn’t to say I don’t love a good, lively debate, but there’s always a way to do so without degrading someone else. A way that most people have yet to discover.

It’s like we’re conditioned to fight for what we believe, rather than taking the time to teach each other.

If you want someone on your side, you’re more likely to do so by explaining your point than yelling that their opinion is wrong — in my opinion, at least.

In today’s world, that scenario is more of a dream. But what can I say? I’m a dreamer.

There are a few people that I get along with and we have enough mutual respect for one another that I feel comfortable opening up with them on certain topics. With those people, I’ve found it easier to ask them questions about their theories. They know I mean no harm, that I’m not attacking them, and that I am genuinely curious about what they have to share.

With the election this year, various topics are floating around and encircling people in tension, holding on tight until they’re ready to burst when the time comes, or so I’ve noticed.

I’m trying my best to put myself dead center. Especially since I started at The News, members of the community who have voiced their opinions to me have finished their argument with something along the lines of, “I hope you don’t feel the other way.”

Thinking about it now, that comment is just so discouraging.

So, instead of saying I do/don’t agree with them, I tell them that they are entitled to their opinion and, respectfully, I try to remain neutral on whatever topic they throw at me.

Putting myself in the middle means I want to stay educated on both sides and let the facts speak for themselves, rather than let my opinions take over.

That’s not to say I don’t have opinions. I have plenty of opinions.

But I try to balance those in the back of my head, letting facts and research flood the front of my mind. I believe that the rationality of that opens my mind to absorb more content, rather than building an unbreakable wall of opinions.

Maybe my outlook is juvenile or just plain silly and unrealistic, but I like to think it’s optimistic.

Maybe, as I get older, my views will change, but I hope not.

I hope the world finds more ways for us to enrich each other with opinions to make a diverse nation that is to be cherished and respected, to agree with what Neil deGrasse Tyson said.

Torianna Marasco can be reached at 989-358-5686 or tmarasco@TheAlpenaNews.com.


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