Can People You Disagree with Be Smart?

I don’t know about you, but I’m growing really tired of reading, “Wake up, America!” I’m totally over calling people who do or do not wear masks or go to restaurants “stupid.” It sure feels to me like all of us are being manipulated to find even more ridiculous ways to divide up our citizens so that we’ll focus on yelling at each other rather than figuring out ways to better ALL of our lives.

If you don’t agree with me, you are a stupid sheep person. Or something like that.

This may come as a shock, but I don’t think that all people who question the guidelines we’ve been asked to follow about keeping safe from the coronavirus are stupid. Nope. Here’s what I actually think:

  • They have different priorities from me
  • They have very different life experiences from me
  • They value the ability to do what you as an individual want to more than they value a desire to do what’s best for all
  • They learn from different sources of information
  • They’re influenced by those around them, in their social and cultural circles

Now, all those things could be said about me and my friends if the third item about values was switched around. So, if I think I’m smart and you can say that about me, well, then, all those other folks can also be smart.

I’ve read some quite interesting perspectives from people who would like to mingle more freely that do make perfect sense, given a different set of assumptions than I would make. I’m glad I have read them, because it helps me be clear that there’s more than one way to look at anything. I respect these friends and acquaintances and hope their decisions work out for them, just as I hope mine work out for me.

I really only worry about people who let themselves be fanned into a fury, threatening to hurt nurses or punch people who don’t wear face coverings. None of that’s gonna help any of us live productive lives, earn a living, and enjoy our families, is it?

Let’s take a break from the divisiveness. Image by@paolo2012 via Twenty20

My plea to all is that we make the effort to form our opinions and act based on information from trusted sources and that we make an effort to understand how others might conclude differently. We’re all trying to take care of ourselves. I hope most of us can also try to not harm others as we take care of ourselves, even if we value personal liberty over the collective good. We need each other.

PS: This was just what came out of my head and into the keyboard. I could be completely wrong, perhaps even, dare I say, stupid? But, maybe it will help us think about our own biases and sources.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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