I'm terrible with confrontation. Maybe it's because I'm from Seattle and that makes me inherently passive-aggressive. Maybe it's because I don't like raised voices. Maybe it's because I hate negativity. Regardless, I will take drastic measures to ensure I do not offend anyone, at any time. I don't openly discuss religion, dieting, climate change, celebrity gossip, or politics. I avoid these at all costs.

That doesn't mean I have a closed mindset when it comes to topical issues. In fact, I consider myself a pretty open-minded person. My issue with sociopolitical debates are that they are often just that: debates. Why? Because, in general, individuals hate to be wrong.

Maybe that's a generalization, but I think it's appropriate to assume most people would rather be right than wrong. It's all in the connotation. The essence of a mature debate is to defend your opinion, your stance, your ideals. There is nothing wrong with that; passion is perfectly respectable. The problem lies where one side and the other refuse to meet. The problem is that most discussions are not stable on common ground.

We cannot expect to accomplish anything when we only listen to respond.

You identify as a Conservative? Great. You see things through a more Liberal lens? Cool. Independent? Anarchist? Something else? Good for you! Tell me why, and I will listen. Maybe you'll bring up a point I have never before considered. If I completely disagree, at least I have learned what else is out there. I have my opinion, you have yours. I'm not going to try to convince you that I'm right and you're wrong. There is absolutely no way for me to prove that I'm correct because not one of these issues has a definitive answer.

I can respect that every individual is raised under different circumstances. Everyone has unique experiences, role models, environments, etc. that shape our beautifully diverse perspectives. I was born to a mother and father who provided me and my brother with much more than we could ever need. I grew up in the third most Liberal city in the United States. Raised a member of the Roman Catholic faith, I was educated in the public schooling system until I chose to attend a Catholic, college preparatory high school. I attribute my left-leaning ideologies to these, among many other, factors throughout my 19 years. How the heck would I be qualified to judge the experiences of someone born and raised in a different family structure, in a different city, with a different educational background and faith, or lack thereof? The short answer is: I am nowhere near qualified!!! Three exclamation points - this is some serious talk.

No research, no textbook, no seminar or TED Talk or intervention or news bit will EVER teach me enough to justifiably deem another person's opinion inferior to my own. The basis of understanding necessary to have a mature, informed decision of this nature will never be established. I am allowed to disagree. I am allowed to agree. That beautiful diversity of opinion, that incredible power we have to piece together fragmented thoughts to form our own beliefs, is what makes us individuals.

Well, here I am, openly speaking about topics I very much like to keep to myself. Might as well take it a step further while I'm at it.

Stick with me. Let's assume we have a mutual understanding. I can move on in my pursuit of happiness with you, as my equal, pursuing your own. Would your choice to engage in a homosexual relationship directly affect me? No, absolutely no harm done. Would you be threatening MY wellbeing by deciding, with your family, what to (or not to) do with YOUR body during YOUR pregnancy? No, that is your decision to make. If Jimmy and Geraldine or whoever had a problem with either or any of your personal choices, that's on them. If conflicting opinion was SUCH a huge deal to these two, they could make their own (perfectly justified in its own way) decision to surround themselves with those who share the same views. The bottom line is, one's own decisions in pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness should never impinge on another's.

We can agree to disagree.

And my opinion is that no one should be granted the power to legislate morality. If it doesn't directly affect you, stay out of it. Not your body, not your family, not your relationship. This goes for me, you, him, her, they, them, anyone, everyone.

There is something else to be said for nationwide policies involving foreign relations, economy, taxes, gun control, yada yada yada. Clearly, any legal decision made in regard to these matters concerns more than the individual; large-scale policy change will affect the nation's wellbeing. Again, I voice my personal (and well-deserved) opinion that it is appropriate to work as a country to address these large-scale concerns. There is a very clear distinction to be made between issues of this nature and those previously mentioned. I will save any further discussion for another time.

Once more, these are my opinions.

I hope I have made it clear that I do not think I am right or wrong. This is simply what I think. I invite you to discuss. I invite you to comment and share your own beliefs. I invite you to learn from one another and build upon any foundation with which you entered this conversation. I invite you to open your minds and hearts to what it truly means to be a single part of the incredible whole we form together. Just don't be a jerk about it.