"The Importance of Mature Political Debate" by Emma Landry
Not too long ago I was talking about my political opinions with someone twice my age. To preface this, I do understand that with experience comes wisdom, but that is not to say that someone else’s wisdom is more valuable than mine just because I haven’t been on this planet as long. That being said, we were having a mature conversation until he laughed. I said something he disagreed with and instead of addressing it maturely, I was laughed at. Did I laugh at what I considered to be ridiculous political ideas during this conversation? Not once. The first step to “making America great” is learning how to talk about America without insulting or looking down upon others.
Throughout this conversation, I kept asking for some sort of evidence or further explanation. I was genuinely trying to see the other side of this liberal-versus-conservative coin, but when I was met with no concrete evidence and more opinion, or a curt “you’re only twenty,” I moved on to explain my perspective. I thought that maybe if I could use my opinions followed by evidence to back up my points, just maybe my thoughts would be valued by this adult that seemed particularly uninterested in any opinion but their own, but I was wrong. My perspective was addressed with no attempt at understanding, rather I was laughed at and told to remember my age.
None of us learn from this. Nobody grows through a stubborn mind. Open-mindedness is how we grow in character and learn to become better and more empathetic human beings. Being able to discuss a difference of opinions with maturity and understanding is how we take steps toward a better world. Learning how to talk to each other productively is how positive change is created, but if we keep laughing at everyone with a different opinion than our nobody can ever move forward. Opinions hold value, but only informed opinions are truly valuable. As long as someone has an informed opinion, aren’t they worth listening to? Albert Einstein once said “we cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” so new, well-informed opinions should be welcomed, regardless of how young or old the individual may be.
My experience and wisdom are not of lesser value because I have less of it. I have valid thoughts and opinions to bring to the table and I should not be written off because of my age, just as I don’t attribute my difference in political ideologies to age, rather to experience. I suggest that rather than getting angry at an opposing idea, we try to see their perspective. Even if we may not agree with it, the least we can do is keep the conversation civil and calmly explain why we disagree. Until we learn how to have a mature political conversation, we will continue to see immature politics that do nothing but push us back to a time where we were much less than great. We need to learn how to leave our stubbornness at the door and go into every conversation with an open mind and an understanding heart.