In light of the recent presidential election, no matter your stance, we can all agree that it reflected the division that existed in our country. The news and the general opinion is that this divide is based on party affiliation, political ideology and the idea that some people are just stupid. I have a problem with this assumption because I do not think that differences of opinion and beliefs are the root of our problems. I don’t even think disagreement is the issue. The problem is our ego. Not just that arrogant kid in your seminar class who acts like they know everything type of ego, but the ego that each person carries.
Ego doesn't just mean arrogance. The term Ego also describes an essential part of how we derive our sense of self from our ability to express our thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. The best way to think of it is a belief you hold that is strong, and in your opinion, true. But remember that Ego is more than just your belief or opinion.
We can't help having viewpoints. We're human and honestly, there's nothing wrong with standing your ground and holding unwavering thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. A problem arises, however, when you allow your ego to blind and deafen you from everything else. When you refuse to hear a different opinion or a counter-argument against your belief, you aren't being passionate. You're being close-minded.
You might be thinking: Why is it that problem? What’s the point of listening to someone I don’t agree with? I know what I believe in and that's all that matters. The issue with this problem is the division, animosity, and pain it creates. Because we are not listening and instead we end up stirring up conflict. The ultimate goal in our society is to create solutions or compromises when arguments ensue. The ugly truth is that it isn’t as easy as it sounds. But it's not impossible. We can come to solutions and compromises, but we need to put aside our egos and listen. We need to be active listeners.
And I don’t mean the listening you do to be respectful of your opponent as you conjure up some better statement to support your opinion and attack theirs. I'm talking about actively listening to the other person. Listening to their opinion, trying to understand why they think that way and why they have a different opinion. It sounds silly, however, that is how we get through the bullshit and pettiness. It does not mean you change your beliefs. What it does mean is that you have to set aside your ego. Basically to the point where you aren't thinking about attacking another human being for having a different opinion than you. It is the ability to not over-express your sense of self through your ideas to the point that you fail to hear anyone's else's. We are making sure everyone is heard. Through this, we can actually become better people and resolve conflicts.
Take a step back and think about the last time you had a conversation with someone who had a difference of opinion. Did you actively listen to that person? Did you put aside your ego and try to understand their opinion? I want you to think about that. So the next time you have a conversation or argument make sure that you are being an active listener.
We do not live in a perfect world where there is one right answer or belief that everyone agrees on. Honestly, that would be an extremely boring world to live in. We have different opinions and thoughts, but that is what makes us amazing. All it takes is putting aside our egos and being active listeners to end the divide in our country.