Let's have a conversation. Imagine a person from another race, religion, sexuality or political affiliation approached you and asked your views on your race, your religion, your sexuality or your political affiliation. Could you sit down and have an open, understanding conversation? Would you be able to see their side? Would you be able to respect and appreciate their differences? Now imagine what that would accomplish. Imagine everyone being able to view many controversial topics from multiple points of views. How would you change? On a bigger scale, how would our society change?

The United States' first amendment is Freedom of Speech. If that is one of our most basic rights, why is it taken from us very often? Usually, controversial conversations turn into who can scream the loudest. But what do we learn from screaming at each other? Absolutely nothing. For most Christian families, it is strange to have two denominations in one household. My father is Southern Baptist and my mother a Seventh Day Adventist. I chose to be a Seventh Day Adventist.

Most people do not know what this is but it is a denomination of the Christian faith that follows both the New and Old Testament. I grew up being able to hear both sides of a discussion carried out in the most respectful form and choose a way that was best for me. I also was put into a school where I was able to learn about other religions, not just Christianity, and visit temples and meeting houses. Where I developed a respect for other people's beliefs. This helped me to expand my own faith and allowed me to understand why I believe the way I do.

I remember coming in as a freshman to UNCC. I was terrified. I was the only one from my family that has been to a secular college. My beliefs were always different from the people around me, and I am very hot-headed. I always believed that every discussion you have about religion or anything else controversial was a debate that had to be won. This was the wrong view to have. Not only did I starve myself from listening and getting to know other people, whose views are just as important as mine, I also alienated people that were different than I.

This was the wrong thing to do. I was not raised like this. I was raised to care about others views, feelings, and backgrounds. When I started learning and opening my heart to other perspectives and people, something amazing happened. I got to learn. And understand, and my debate skills multiplied. It gave me a greater love for the people around me, and a better understanding of my own beliefs.

If we are respectful and we actually learn to listen I believe great things can happen. Maybe new friendships, compromises and many solutions to a problem at hand. I challenge you to ask at least one person this week their view on something, anything. And just listen, do not interject any of your own ideas, just simply try to see things from their side.