R-E-S-P-E-C-T: find out what it means to me

Everyone has opinions and we all love to voice them. With social media access right at our fingertips, it’s easy to simply type and post what’s on our mind. Because it’s so easy to post our opinion, we often forget how others will perceive it.

Many opinionated posts seem to end with, “I don’t care what anyone thinks, it’s my opinion!” And sure, you are entitled to it and you’re allowed to be confident in your own beliefs, but that doesn’t necessarily make it OK to put down another person, or group of people, simply because their beliefs differ from your own.

One of the most recent issues that comes to mind is the legalization of gay marriage. While I was excited about it and spent the day celebrating, there were, and are, those who took to social platforms to let the world know how “sickening” they thought the situation was. And while we could sit and argue over the issue, it won’t resolve anything because the fact of the matter is that you are set on your opinion while I am set on mine; we’re not going to change each other’s minds.

My issue is this: Just because you have an opinion that differs from mine does not mean you should post, or say, something hateful, or something written with the intent to hurt another person. You can tell me, “Well, hey, freedom of speech, lady. Get over it!” While you are correct that we have the freedom to say what we want, that doesn’t mean we should say something to purposefully hurt someone. There’s a difference between having the right to do something and knowing what’s right and wrong.

And while some may think I’m trying to tell everyone they need to stop voicing their opinions, that is not at all what I’m trying to do. There are ways to share your opinion without intentionally hurting someone whose views are different.

If I have learned anything in college, it’s that you can have a dialogue between two parties without blatantly insulting one another. You can still respect others while having differing points of view.

It’s like the saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I think we could create a healthier dialogue between differing parties if we at least tried to keep that in mind. For example, it’s OK to ask questions about other’s ideas to better understand them, even though you may never agree with them. What you shouldn’t do is remain ignorant and preach about how you’re better than everyone else simply because of your beliefs.

Just because you don’t agree with someone doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings and that your words and actions don’t hurt them. Keep in mind that while you may see their ideas or beliefs as negative, chances are they have similar feelings
toward yours.