This is somewhat related to my last article, but I find it relevant (and I hope you will too), so I hope you won't mind my fascinating on it (or near it). As a disclaimer: I know "things" is a bad word, but I am going to use it a lot anyway.
I hear a lot of griping and commenting around about people not liking things. It's good and fine not to like certain things, or people, or ideas. However, I hear it said in the sense that simply because somebody doesn't like something, then that makes it worthless to his or her world, it makes it worthless to any world. People dismiss things simply because they do not like them. I hear it particularly said about core classes, opposing opinions, opposing people, difficult ideas, and other like things.
It is possible to appreciate things that we do not like. You see, liking has all to do with affection. We are assigning value to an idea or a person based on how much affection we have toward it. Appreciation has to do with recognition. Appreciation is about recognizing the significance of an idea or a person or an opponent, and the role they play in our worlds. We can appreciate things we don't like. In fact, we should appreciate things we don't like.
For instance, I do not love the book Things Fall Apart, but I certainly appreciate it because of the role it plays in the literary world. I do not like all the work I had to do in high school, but I appreciate it because it has made college easy. I absolutely despise math, but I appreciate it because, well, I forget most of the time. Numbers are essential to the functionality of all life as we know it...I suppose.
But it's so much harder with opinions. It's so much harder to appreciate an idea we see as being hopelessly wrong. It is so much easier to simply not like opposing ideas and to cut them up with our tongues whenever we talk about them. Whether we like it or not, those opposing ideas play some kind of role in society, and it is important that we appreciate that role.
If you are advocating for the rights of any people group or the relevance of any idea or any position, then it is absolutely essential that you appreciate things you do not like. If you base your opponent's significance on how much you like them, then you are robbing them of their identity. You are assigning them value that does not align with their actual value or their actual being. Is that not the very thing you want stopped? If you want people to respect you and your position, then you ought to respect them as well (that does not mean you have to like them). You ought to appreciate how they stand opposite you.
I feel as though the distinction between liking and appreciating is disappearing, or perhaps it is that only the concept of appreciation is disappearing. To like something is to focus on your world; to appreciate something is to recognize the relevance of that thing in itself. Appreciating things allows them to come into your world and broaden your horizons.
I do not think this is a conscious choice, maybe a result of culture or habit, and I do not think it is an obvious choice. I think it slips off the tongue and subtly warps the ways in which we are capable of thinking. It winds us about and pits us up against each other and denies that people work together. Being conscious of trying to appreciate things, even those we do not like, will brighten our world a little. It will be more peaceful and more hopeful and it will be much wider. Subtle things like the distinction between liking and appreciating help define the very way in which we think about and perceive the world around us. How much better to have a world that has significance outside of our opinions?
Appreciate things even if you don't like them. Respect other people.