It’s probably fair to say that in the world of democracy, debate, freedom of speech and public access to information the road around here has been somewhat pot-holed and winding and subject to hidden dips.
When we compare ourselves with much of the world we live in a liberal, free thinking society where everyone can have an opinion, speak their mind and state their views without fear of retribution.
Personally I love a good old debate and even a heated discussion with friends, acquaintances, strangers and professionals with alternative views to mine. I welcome the challenges, thought processes, analysis and outcomes of these. Sometimes my views express those of the majority, sometimes not. Sometimes they raise awareness of situations that others may not, but would benefit from being aware of or having the opportunity to comment on, sometimes not. Sometimes I come away with a changed opinion on receipt of new information and different viewpoints. Often I come away wiser.
Michael Clarke Duncan
Very rarely do I take a difference of view as a personal affront. Democracy and life in a free state encourage this. Friendship and business allow for and compromise this. I have many friends with different views to me on many topics, including ‘the biggies’ – you know, the ones that should be avoided at dinner parties – politics, religion, sexual preferences. I actually enjoy these topics over a meal, but only if those I’m with can accept alternative positions (excuse the pun to point 3!) without being personally offended. No-one wants to upset friends so sometimes it is prudent to agree to differ and avoid those topics.
However in business and community issues there are often times when differences in opinion and preferred outcome need to be vociferously defended or challenged.
For various reasons this last 12 months or so have seen this arise on a few occasions. Sadly, despite the intention to the contrary, some professional people have chosen to take the challenges personally. It’s very sad to see people still angry and offended by issues that were not personally theirs to start with, long after the issue has been resolved or forgotten. These issues were challenged on principal and prospective outcome rather than attacks on any individuals personality.
Over time, changes in priority, personnel, the arrival of new issues and (to be honest) downright boredom to continue, seem to have begun to bring forth a more relaxed, commonsense and balanced dialogue. Plus, I’m glad to say, the majority of the people involved, and certainly those whose input, views, actions and opinions I respect, have returned to, or remained on friendly, polite and respectful terms. Despite the ongoing difference of opinion on the subjects concerned. We have (and, here we show evidence of effective democratic process) reached a point where we can move on having resolved some issues, bypassed others and decided that some are simply not important enough to continue expending energy on.
“What we have to do… is to find a way to celebrate our diversity and debate our differences without fracturing our communities.” – Hilary Clinton
I hope we have all learned lessons, moved forward, and come out of the debate with our consciences intact our honour upheld and our understanding of each other all the greater.
Remember, for every war the ‘good guys’ are those on whose side you are sat, the enemy is always the opposing side!
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius
We should never be afraid of speaking our minds or stand up on issues that we feel important. But we should also remember to realise that not everyone will have the same view but we can all live together despite our differences and sometimes, we should celebrate those differences.
John Stuart Mill