Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, astronomer Galileo Galilei, female rights activist Rosa Parks. There are countless occasions throughout history when people’s ideas have been largely condemned by their peers but hold as the central belief today.
It is easy for people to shut others down when others try to express opinions that differ from their own. But it is critical for people to keep an open mind and listen to others’ ideas, even when they go against popular or public views.
As human beings, we have a natural tendency to resist change. However, this does not excuse people for refusing to engage in a respectful conversation with different viewpoints. If one confines themselves to opinions with which they agree with, they miss the opportunity to learn and grow as an individual. Simply listening will not hurt; by the same logic, listening does not mean one has to agree with it. Exposure to the other side of the story might even get people to view the issue differently. If anything, lending ears to others allows one to see the same issue in different shoes, which may help lead them to a better understanding of where the other person is coming from.
Sometimes people outright reject opposing opinions and lecture others on why their own opinion is the best, even if they never seriously gave the other side a thorough thought. Consequently, people believe that they are not being heard, so they may feel the need to resort to more aggressive approaches. Some go beyond the peaceful protests and turn to violence because they want their voice to be heard. And with violence comes people who will be hurt. When that happens, nobody wins. The attacker gets a bad reputation, their message get a bad reputation, and the victim feels distressed.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the freedom of speech. This right allows people to freely express their opinions without fear of government censorship and societal sanctions. At a time when polarization is so prevalent in America, it is essential that people listen to others when they have something to say. A majority of San Gabriel High School students and staff lean more towards liberal, but this does not mean there are not any conservatives among the student body. It can be difficult for right-wingers to freely express their beliefs without being scoffed at, which is why some may choose to keep their mouths closed.
The resistance to open dialogue with people whose views differ from your own is detrimental to societal and individual development. Everyone has a voice and they deserve to be heard.