Over and over, I see facebook posts by seemingly kind people instructing friends who [they perceive] believe differently than they do to “unfriend” them.
This week, I saw a post from an HR consultant on LinkedIn, declaring they would not work with anyone who [they perceive] believe differently than they believe.
I have more than a few problems with this increasing cancel culture reaction to diversity. And by definition, I believe the word diversity is accurate.
I included [they perceive] because
perception isn’t always accurate,
the issues facing us today are incredibly complex and
most people aren’t myopic simpletons.
1. Perception is subjective.
Our perception (a way of understanding or interpreting something)
is skewed by our
perspective (a particular attitude toward or point of view)
Consider the possibility that we have more in common that it may appear at first glance.
people who believe and act differently than we do, actually want and value the same things but differ only in their strategies for pursuing those shared goals?
people who believe differently than we do are intelligent and informed about facts, but differ only in their interpretations and conclusions about those facts?
the labels we use to describe people who believe differently than we do actually dehumanizes them and prevents us from seeing them as unique individuals, much less understanding or empathizing with them?
our perception of the “other guy” is wrong? What would we find out about them as human beings if we didn’t unfriend them or refuse to work with them?
2. When an issue truly is “clear” or “simple” there isn’t extensive controversy over it.
Time and time again, I see people completely disregarding conflicting ideas as invalid or irrelevant in their efforts to justify and validate their own view. I’ve said this before:
Dismissing alternative viewpoints doesn’t strengthen your argument or your credibility.
It weakens the first and erodes the second.
If our reasoning can’t stand on it’s own merit and stand strong against questions or counter arguments, it needs some work. And if our reasoning needs work, we might consider listening to the alternative viewpoints as a first step. Allowing them to challenge our assumptions and help us come to a deeper understanding of what we believe so we can explain it. Respectfully.
It’s so. much. easier to call someone by a label instead of by their name, to cut off communication with them and instead surround ourselves with the comfort and familiarity of people who think like us, but we can’t hear different voices if we block ourselves off from their source.
3. Disagreement doesn’t mean people are uninformed, uneducated, racist or brainwashed.
Statements like the ones below assume that people who hold alternative views about the causes of, and solutions to, the problem of racism are only listening to a few well known celebrities “instead of” rather than “in addition to” their friends – and to the alternative views of a significantly larger number of not so famous people with diverse backgrounds, education and credentials:
- “…if you are listening to them instead of the black people in your life on a daily basis…You’re doing it wrong.”
- “If you’re a white person…quick to post a video of a famous black person agreeing with you, but won’t read a book from a black person with a PhD in their field disagreeing with you, then you aren’t trying to learn, you’re just weaponizing black voices to confirm your own bias.
- “If you genuinely want to be part of this conversation, please stop only listening to black voices that prove your white opinion right.”
there are so many of these alternative voices, coming from so many sources, growing louder every day that it’s impossible for us NOT to hear, much less ignore them?
these thoughts and opinions are not just coming from black celebrities but from all walks of life, from multiple socio-ecconomic classes and some with PhDs of their own?
people aren’t just watching youtube video clips and sharing pithy word images?
people are actually reading books, studies and articles – written by authors from both sides, listening to podcasts, interviews and debates AND having authentic, vulnerable conversations with friends who not only don’t look like they do, but also friends who don’t think like they do?