I had a valuable experience today. One that I actually have rather often, and it's mildly distressing, but ultimately good for me.
I spent today helping my little brother clean up his apartment. As often happens, we spent much of the time exchanging opinions on abstract, weighty issues. We touched on most of the political hot-button issues today, including military deployment vs. diplomacy, immigration policy, gun control, and a few others in passing.
I'm thankful to him for being willing to discuss these topics with a minimum of emotional argument and instead engage with me on what facts we both knew and opinions we hold. I definitely sit to his left on most political topics, but we actually have a lot of fundamental common ground.
The most valuable part of this conversation was simply that it happened. Although we didn't agree on everything, I'm really glad that we were able to talk coherently and calmly about our perspectives. That's an activity that I feel doesn't happen often enough today. How can we interact with each other if we aren't willing to acknowledge that each other can have coherent, valid points?
I have several friends who I have intense, sometimes heated discussions with. It bothers me to have my opinions and perspectives challenged. I like to think that I hold my opinions for good reason. But sometimes my reasons are wrong. Sometimes I have ideas that I've simply adopted without a good reason. Sometimes I need to be told that.
It's hard to ride the fine line between being learning from others and being a pushover. I hope I can find it. But to live a life without listening to others, without understanding that others' experiences are equally valid...that would be tragedy.