I was a Republican for most of my life. Most of my friends and my family are still Republicans, and I value them highly. I’m not going to change my voting or principles for them. I’m not expecting them to change their voting habits or principles for me. But I value them anyway.
Many of the people I associate with professionally are dyed-in-the-wool Democrats. I respect them, and because I believe they’re adults, I am not expecting to change any minds over on that side.
Reasonable people do not change anyone’s mind. Reasonable people present information and facts, then wait to see if the person changes their own mind.
This basic concept is at the core of what we’re trying to do here. None of us want this to be an echo chamber. We don’t all agree on topics. Even when we do agree on something, we try to remain encouraging to alternate points of view.
This does not extend to intentional breaches of civility. Attacking and demeaning others personally… including using derisive terms… isn’t allowed. Arguing a contrary point not because you think it needs to be heard but merely to cause friction is strongly discouraged. But arguing for a stance you believe in? Welcome.
The Kavanaugh nomination was a good example of this. Had we been around for the Roy Moore campaign, I expect we’d have seen similar strife. In this situation, where one side was presenting accusations without a shred of concrete evidence and the other side was provably lying, reasonable disagreements, inflamed by incomprehensibly certain pundits trying to make it a partisan issue, inevitably arose.
The answer is not to harbor hard feelings or decide that you have to pick “the side” that you agree with. There should be no “partisan sides” to an issue, there is only the issue. There will be other issues, some where you strongly agree and some where you vehemently disagree. Feeling that you are locked into agreeing with a group only serves to limit your thinking, and it fosters the conditions for hatred.
My wife has recently made a case for not voting. That could be refraining from voting for a single office, or ignoring a ballot entirely. I want to make it clear: however you vote, whether you’re voting straight ticket, whether you’re voting for individuals, or whether you’re not voting… I am eager to talk to you, hopefully on a friendly basis. I will regularly present arguments for certain courses of action but I don’t expect anyone to follow my path. Hope? Absolutely. Not expect.
If you see opinions with which you disagree, in the posts or in the comment section, please be encouraged to speak up. Unpopular speech is often valuable. Again, I’m not talking about reflexive naysaying, I’m talking about considering another point of view, giving it some thought as to why the person might be saying that, and then respectfully producing a counter-argument.
This isn’t unique to the site. If you hear people out in the world with whom you disagree, rather than reflexively deride them please try to present a better, more thoughtful argument. Response doesn’t have to be “hitting back”, it can simply be presenting the fallacies in a position. Life is better for everyone when we can maintain civility, accepting that other people and other opinions have value.
And on that notion, forgiveness: Let me make it clear. I have never been a big fan of “forgive and forget”; I feel that “forgetting” clears the way for a potential serial abuser. But I am a great fan of forgiveness. We have been attacked, both as individual contributors and as a site, on other web sites and on social media. I truly don’t care, even if I do sometimes hear about it. Does it mean I feel as positively toward the people attacking me? Of course not. Does it mean I suddenly discount their opinions? No. If I stopped talking to everyone who said awful and untrue things about me I would have a far smaller circle of acquaintances and even a smaller circle of friends.
That’s why we try not to ban people here, and why none of us should be “banning” people in our regular lives or our social medias (again, with the exception of people who are merely attempting to cause strife). We need to be a nation of individuals, not a nation of drones for political parties; and we need to be a nation of adults, not a nation of children unwilling to face dissent.