April Jeppson: I may not agree with you, but I can be polite

Published 8:02 pm Thursday, October 18, 2018

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson

 

There’s this quote from Anthony Bourdain that I love, “I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.”

I feel in today’s volatile society, it’s all or nothing. Either you voted this way and we can be friends, or you’re an idiot and I hate you. I have never understood this mentality. I have always enjoyed friendships with people who have opposing views. That’s the spice right there; that’s what makes life fun — talking and discussing and learning and leaving a conversation more informed about the other side.

I grew up in a small town and graduated with about 30 kids in my class. Your math teacher was your volleyball coach, and on Saturday nights you also bowled with his family. I learned that people weren’t just one-dimensional. You couldn’t categorize someone based solely off of their hobby or job they had. I learned that I could disagree with something, and yet still like the individual. One idea, interest or point of view doesn’t define an entire person. No need to name call or shout — yet, I feel this concept is so foreign to many.

To my daughter, vanilla ice cream is the best and her taste buds confirm it. It is the best flavor for her and because she’s 4, it’s easy for her to think that vanilla would, therefore, be the best flavor for everyone. I mean, come on — why wouldn’t it be? Her little 4-year-old mind cannot comprehend that chocolate or strawberry or any number of other flavors might taste better to someone else. I like to think we evolve and learn and grow. Yet, I can go online or turn on the TV any day of the week and see that so many of us are still stuck in this concept of what’s best for me is obviously best for you. Oh, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re an idiot.

It is easy to fall into this trap without even realizing it. As humans it’s our nature to befriend and spend time with those we have many things in common. If our circle of friends shares our beliefs, we can quickly forget that there are others who rightfully disagree with us. I could talk about politics, religion, our judicial system, our school system, whether pineapple pizza or candy corn are edible or belong in the garbage can. Any number of topics can bring up opposing views.

I went out to dinner this summer with my girlfriends. If you haven’t been to the Interchange, do it. One of my very pregnant gals started talking about how some women consumed their placenta after the birth and how that kind of grossed her out. She followed up with, no offense to any of you who do this, but that’s just not for me. Two of my friends at the table had not only done it, but were enthusiastically for it. Within 30 minutes, the entire table was talking about this procedure, and my squeamish friend had been educated on the topic and was understanding why some women do it. I’m not saying she went home and changed her birth plan, but the conversation was rich and open and all these varying opinions were able to flourish. If only more people could discuss with such civility.

The next time you read something online that fires you up, I encourage you to keep scrolling. You don’t have to comment on every post you read. In life you also don’t have to contribute to every conversation people are having. You can walk away if you can’t bring yourself to disagree respectfully. Because unless both parties are calm and willing to honestly listen and learn from each other, nothing is going to change except everyone leaves angry. On that note,  I strongly encourage you to do your research and find candidates in this upcoming election who share your concerns. Perhaps candidates who can get the job done while respecting those that have different views.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.