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Politics and shower heads

 

Jason Smith

Columnist

  There’s a certain topic that’s been bouncing around in my head the last few weeks.

  Like many in today’s world, I’ve been bombarded on a daily basis with news items, Facebook posts and online blogs expounding on various issues. Invariably, each of these carries a similar theme – the one that says, “My way is right, and everyone else is wrong.”

  I was recently trying to think of a good analogy to lead into my opinions about this, when I had an epiphany. Oddly enough, this revelation came while I was in the shower.

  I prefer the shower head to be situated so that it shoots water out with more pressure. It relaxes me and invigorates me all at once. My wife, on the other hand, opts for the wider spray pattern that shoots out more gently.

  Every day, when I get in the shower, I adjust the shower head to my desired setting, and she does the same in the opposite direction. We don’t make a big deal of it. She likes her shower one way, and I like mine another.

  At some point, however, we have to rejoin the real world. It’s a world where conflicting opinions often cause animosity, arguments or even – perish the thought – the “unfriending” of a person on Facebook. I’ve seen countless heated arguments explode, whether online or in person, especially as it relates to differing stances on political issues. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  Do I have my opinions about those issues? Yes. Do I feel more passionately about some issues than others? Absolutely.

  Does everyone around me see those issues the same way I do?  No.

  My opinions are shaped by the events and circumstances of my life, and the lessons I have learned along the way. If someone else’s life isn’t marked by those same events, circumstances and lessons, how can I expect them to always agree with my point of view?

  We hear a lot these days about the concept of tolerance - for people’s lifestyles, choices, behaviors and the like. In researching for this column, I came across a definition of tolerance that describes it as “the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.”

  It seems to me, though, that what’s really lacking is the idea of respect for the opinions of others. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines respect as “a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way.”

  Imagine that: a connection between respect and how we treat each other.

  I don’t want my wife to merely tolerate my existence when it comes to changing the shower setting. I want to be treated with respect, and she deserves the same consideration. By the same token, disagreements about certain issues don’t have to result in irreparable divisions between two people – even on Facebook. The key element is respect, and treating others and their views as important.

  If we lose that sense of respect for each other, winning an argument won’t matter very much.

  

 Jason has worked in newspapers since 2005, spending the majority of that time in Henry County. He lives in Covington with his wife and daughter.

 

 

 

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