Participation in respectful dialogue
Staff | Friday, October 9, 2009
Colin made a joke about women. Sean advocated a policy towards homosexuals. And without a thought, many students reacted in the way they deemed appropriate.
Comparing women to South Bend weather was clearly facetious, probably meant more to poke fun at the responses it elicited than a serious attack on the status of women. And while instituting a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy goes against common decency, Sean’s arguments were rooted in Catholic doctrine.
But what were the responses? Long, ranting diatribes against the writers’ reasoning and the writers as individuals.
We don’t deny the remarks were inflammatory. But students claim they want people to show respect, either for homosexuals or women. So show respect for those who disagree with you.
It’s more than respect. It’s being open-minded, willing to accept and consider new ideas. This goes for the original writers and those who responded.The phrase “think before you speak” exists for a reason.
To those who responded to the letters by researching Catholic doctrine, reading the non-discrimination clause and arguing Sean’s points, you’ve lived this ideal. Whether intended or not, the letter sparked your intellect and created meaningful dialogue about an important issue.
To those who looked up the authors on Facebook for dirt to put in their letters, you’ve missed the point. You’re not showing them the respect you yourself ask for. Instead, you’re stooping below their level to fire off some cheap shots, hoping that by making them look foolish you’ll win.
And to those who read these comments or their responses and wished the “other side” would keep to themselves, you, too, are on the wrong track. Hateful remarks, in any fashion, are unacceptable. But ultimately, this is an issue of freedom, and both sides of the debate want to repress the other. But silence achieves nothing.
An intelligent conversation, one of mutual respect, and one which gives both sides the opportunity to learn something, should be the ultimate goal.
This four-year period presents a time where students can learn and experience more than they ever have before. Embrace it. Because in life you’ll find plenty of opinions, positions or thoughts you don’t agree with. You won’t always change your views; instead, you’ll have to deal with disagreement, either by rational argument, discussion or, if the situation calls for it, ignorance.