‘I just want to talk’

When the name “Kaepernick” comes to mind, I immediately think of the heated shouting matches his actions recently incited. Meanwhile, I’m just wondering “Can we all just sit down and actually talk about this?”

Between mass killings, videos of police misconduct and this circus of an election we’re suffering through, we’ve become a people given to contention, distrust and boiling, directionless anger.

I understand it, to a point. We’re naturally inclined to draw lines in the sand and take sides, no matter what. We inherently harbor an us-versus-them mentality, and it’s easy to take offense when our views are contrasted or opposed by the views of others.

Colin Kaepernick refuses to stand for the national anthem, citing his disagreement with the nation’s handling of race relations as his reason for doing so. Understandably, it’s a very touchy subject, and it makes sense that it would divide people.

The problem is, we’ve allowed ourselves to be divided so horribly by it that we’re learning nothing from each other’s arguments. There seems to be no room for discussion between the two factions we’ve been broken into.

It’s either “This is justified and you’re wrong for thinking otherwise” or “This is wrong and you’re wrong for not agreeing with me.”

We’d be so much better off if we could have a civil, level-headed dialogue about these issues. Yes, we live in troubling times, but that doesn’t mean we can’t respect the opinions of others.

What I’ve started to do is encourage dialogue between my friends. There are so many different perspectives about any given issue, and I’ve started to get my friends to share theirs. They don’t always agree, but they establish an understanding with each other.

There’s certainly value in learning everything you can about current events and developing strong, informed opinions, but it’s just as important to listen to those who disagree with you.

Not only does that give us an opportunity to understand where we’re coming from, but also creates an opportunity for all of us to work together and move forward.