Luther College Chips

Listen to learn, not to attack

Elizabeth Bonin, Managing Editor

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I am really bad at having opinions. As the Managing Editor of Chips, this is a bit of an ironic situation. When tense conversations pop up, I am usually the one who sits quietly and listens. I hesitate to give my own opinion in fear of verbal attack or further disagreement.

I have noticed that when discussing various issues, some people tend to see their point of view and their point of view only. Instead of actively listening to the other person, they only listen to find a strategy to refute the other opinion.

Unfortunately, I think we have all seen disagreements that turn into full-blown fighting matches. Though you do not have to respect the opinion of the other person, you do have to respect them as a human being. Or at least pretend to.

Personal attacks are a low way to try and prove a point. We should critique and challenge each other’s beliefs, not physical looks or personalities. Though we may have differing opinions, we are all people working for the betterment of our community.

How can we learn if we are only listening to one side? I want to encourage people to truly listen to another person’s opinion. Try to listen to them with an open mind. Even if you disagree, at least take the time to understand from where they might be coming. A disagreement can then become an opportunity for dialogue. We can ask each other tough questions that challenge the other point of view. This has the opportunity to strengthen our beliefs or possibly rethink them. This is how we can all learn from each other.

What frustrates me the most is that the one person who should be the leading example of unity is instead the worst example. President Trump frequently and publicly insults any individual opposing him, particularly the Democratic Party as a whole. I understand that while on the campaign trail, a political candidate explain why his or her way is better than the opponents’. But once Trump won the presidency, he should have then concentrated on bringing the country together. Instead, he is advocating for a greater division between the parties than there already is.

With a great division, how can we as the American people accomplish anything if we are not willing to listen and learn from one another? We have become so focused on arguing and winning that we have forgotten how to work together for the public good.

In addition, some feel that they cannot express their opinion in fear of verbal attack from others. That is not to say that all dialogue is acceptable. Those that are calling for racist action are not (looking at you, white supremacists). I am also in no way saying I am the perfect example of having an open mind to all ideas. There are definitely times when I can only see my point of view (don’t get me started on the Luther peanut butter debate).

Now it seems like I’ve been rambling for a while here. Point is, if we focus on listening and welcoming all thoughts, we will have a greater variety of opinions and number of people willing to work for the good of all.

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