Commentary: New perspectives are important

I love to talk. I especially love conversations where people readily agree with me and reiterate my point. I love conversations where I’m saturated with only my opinion, and satisfied with only my side of the story.

We all love hearing that we are right, and it is because of agreeable conversations like these that we become more confident in our opinions. But soon, instead of acknowledging counterpoints, we begin to only hear supporting details. 

We do this without realizing it. We only read news from certain sources. We only discuss issues with people of the same political affiliation. We start to believe our arguments are bulletproof because we never expose them to bullets.

And anytime we hear anyone with a differing opinion, we automatically dismiss them. We see people as either right or wrong, without any in between. If they disagree with me, they’re wrong and if they agree with me, they’re right.

We see people as either right or wrong, without any in between.

— Shreya Dodballapur

I’ve thought like this plenty of times before. I don’t like being wrong, but it is important to be challenged. By learning the opinion of the other side, we can strengthen our opinions by understanding where our arguments are weak.

Without new perspectives, we become comfortable addressing our opinions as facts. This is a close-minded, narrow way to see the world.

The only way we can learn to see the shades of gray on issues we always believed to be black and white is by communicating with the other side, not shooting down their opinion before we even hear it.

This doesn’t mean conceding every point to the other side; it just means understanding that they are not inherently incorrect.

New perspectives help us understand that people can have two different, yet correct opinions on the same issue. 

Disagreements don’t all have to be arguments. We need to make the world a safer place for opinion, and the best way to do that is by actually listening to the other side, not just hearing it.