Social Question

laureth's avatar

What do you wish your opponents understood about you?

Asked by laureth (27073 points ) December 30th, 2012

We’re all of us in some kind of faction, some kind of “us” that differentiates itself from a “them.” And lately, our social and political environment has been very divisive, driving a wedge of truth, untruth, exaggeration and mistrust between Us and Them. Misunderstandings (both intentional and unintentional) are common.

Keeping in mind the “us” you belong to, what misconceptions about your group would you like to clear up? What Real Talk would you offer to “them,” to put right something false they believe about you?

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26 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I am a lot more ‘grey area’ than black and white. And I know they are sometimes, too. People aren’t at all different from one another, we are simple animals and we create differences, socially, because we are also stupid animals. I want my ‘opponents’ to know that I know they hurt and bleed and feel too and that I would never step over them if they needed my help. All my ‘opponents’ are, at the end of the day, welcome at my home if they need a place to stay. Their children are welcome to play with my children. They are welcome to my hugs and time and help in time of sorrow and need. And all the ‘crazy things I talk about’ is what makes me someone who would keep your secrets, who would listen to your ‘dark’ ideas and urges and deeds you’ve committed and I would never tell you that you are therefore doomed forever. I would accept your ‘abnormalities,’ your sexualities and gender identities and your loving someone of another race/religion/nationality. I would accept your children and the way they want to be, provided they don’t wish to harm others on purpose for a living, etc. I will accept you when your entire family abandons you for the sake of their ‘beliefs.’ I am actually accepting for no other reason but because people are equal. And I do absolve. I’ve done it for hundreds of people and they are freer because of it. In a weird way, that’s why they say I’m the best ‘Christian’ atheist around.

JenniferP's avatar

I’m a Jehovah’s Witness and I keep hearing the same prejudice repeated over and over again. Some people (not all though) hear some tale or misconception and take it as gospel. I am challenged that “you have your own Bible” and that it is inferior, when it is actually critically acclaimed by some and free of interpolations like some others.

I have heard “You don’t believe in Jesus.” Untrue. I have heard “You only believe 144,000 will be saved. Untrue. I have heard “Your religion was started by a man in the late 1800’s.” Untrue. I have heard “Your religion said that the end of the world would come in 1975.” Untrue. I have heard other dates that we supposedly predicted the end that were also untrue. I have heard that we think we are better than others. Untrue. I have been told that my religion doesn’t allow its members to wear makeup, drive a car, shave our legs, etc. All untrue. I have been told that it is dangerous to not receive a blood transfusion when it is much, much, much , much more dangerous to receive one and that isn’t only because of the threat of disease. Plus it is almost a non issue with the available alternatives. I am anticipating all sorts of challenges and am fully prepared to answer them.

jerv's avatar

That there is a difference between belief and truth, and that Truth requires less discarding /dismissing of data involved in Truth than in Belief.

bkcunningham's avatar

Such a perfect question to start a new year. I was ready to answer and @Simon_De_Beauvoir’s answer was so beautiful, I am just going to enjoy the way it made me feel for awhile before I answer.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think there’s anything about me they need to understand that they don’t already. The thing I wish they understood is science.

Brian1946's avatar

That I’m like a rolling stone and can’t get no satisfaction.

Incoherency_'s avatar

That I’m a prisoner of love being held in the house of the rising Sun.

rooeytoo's avatar

Actually I like all of the answers above, but especially @Simone_De_Beauvoir. I strive to be that way myself. I share what I have with anyone who needs and doesn’t have. Now I must admit I often find this easier to do with 4 legged or feathered creatures but I have never turned away a 2 legged either.

Yeahright's avatar

I wish they were better educated and less narrow minded.

laureth's avatar

@Yeahright, there is always something we wish another group would do better. What I’m getting at, though, is what you would like them to understand about you.

What made me think of this question was something Mr. Laureth said. “Large numbers (I suspect majorities) of both Republicans and Democrats seem to willfully misunderstand their opposites. I know I see some of the ways in which Republicans seem to willfully misunderstand Democrats (mostly by presuming the Democratic position is the precise opposite of theirs on a variety of issues), and some of the ways in which Democrats seem to willfully misunderstand Republicans (mostly by presuming the Republicans who are paid shills for major private enterprises speak for the party).”

I thought this sort of dialogue should be encouraged, for each side (of any debate) to say, “I am human, just like you, even though you don’t believe it,” or whatever else they’re thinking. I didn’t want to limit it to major American political parties, though, since there are so many other “us vs. them” divide-and-conquer issues nowadays.

wundayatta's avatar

I think you mistake rhetoric for actual understanding. You have to be very careful about Washington. They smoke a lot of pot there and say a lot of shit that doesn’t mean what it says. They understand each other very well, and consider each other friends.

But their rhetoric is a different story entirely. In rhetoric they have only two colors—and one of them isn’t even a color. They are always speaking strategically to play to the audience back at home. It has nothing to do with real discussion or debate or issues. It is all about being seen to say the right things.

The real negotiating happens in places we never see. And it only happens when it absolutely has to be done, or else they will lose their constituents. So they have to create artificial deadlines for themselves and then publicize those deadlines and make everything hysterical—and even then, it barely works.

You want honest discussion and understanding? Then we need a political system that doesn’t work on posturing. And I hate to tell you, but I honestly don’t see an alternative. We elect people to fight for us, not negotiate. Not legislate. If you want understanding, it first has to happen at the grass roots, and that means that people have to start living together with people of the “other.” What are the chances of that, I wonder?

laureth's avatar

It might be rhetoric when it comes out of mouths in Washington and from certain media outlets, but I’m talking about the understanding that average people have of other average people.

wundayatta's avatar

Do you think we are immune from rhetoric? Does no one here preach? Are we not often preaching in real life? Always speaking for the ears in the walls?

I think the opportunities for truly honest speech almost only ever come with people who share our beliefs. There are very few people who can stand to listen to views that make them sick without interruption. Just not enough time and few have the patience to do something that will probably not pay off.

tinyfaery's avatar

I don’t have any opponents, at least that I know of.

I guess I want my adversaries to know I really don’t take anything too seriously and I really don’t care what others think, in general.

mazingerz88's avatar

That I am right and that they will never ever win.

augustlan's avatar

That, as an atheist, I still have a strong moral compass.
That without idealists, nothing would ever change.
That caring about education doesn’t make me an elitist.
That introverts aren’t trying to hurt your feelings when they don’t go to your parties.

Paradox25's avatar

I agree and disagree with conservatives on some issues, and this is true when it comes to progressives as well. I guess that politically I would want my ‘opposition’, which realistically could be conservatives, progressives, moderates or libertarians, to understand that I try to see things as they really are rather than trying to simply adhere to a side. One example would be even if I supported unregulated free market capitalism, but well documented evidence shows me that man is the primary cause of global warming, then I’m not going to deny this because of my economic policy stance.

Concerning other issues:

I’m not an anticonformist, but I am a nonconformist.

I’m not an introvert by choice.

My liberal masculism stance is one that I take seriously, because if boys and men were more open to express themselves, and were not held to abide by ridiculously high masculine standards, I think the world would be a much better place for both men and inevitably for women as well.

I’m not a religionist nor do I believe in anything, but I accept a large amount of empirical evidence which suggests that our egos survive ‘physical’ death.

I have much more respect for well intentioned nontheists who do good deeds with no expectation of a heavenly reward than I do for many of the ‘faithful’ who are always quick to brag about their faith.

I think there will be more nontheists in ‘heaven’ (if you want to call it that) than believers.

Symbeline's avatar

My opponents can’t understand anything, because they’re all dead.

Ahem. I don’t really consider myself to have ’‘opponents’’. I don’t really know what group or set of ideologies I belong to. I just like watching horror movies. But you’re right. I probably belong to some faction, or have beliefs or whatever that puts me into a certain group. Some types of people and mind frames I can’t quite hack, except I won’t expect them to understand anything about me until I’m willing to do the same for them. Sad but true, I don’t really try. I’m an asshole, what can I say. But I do keep an open mind and listen, whether I like what I hear or not.
Any extent of this subject that I can tie an answer to, I just kinda wish people would leave me alone when it comes to this kind of stuff. If I believe/not believe in this/that or if I’m for/against that/this, I don’t understand why it is I have to keep explaining myself every time somebody doesn’t agree with me. Probably because I’m not all that smart, and I’m pretty rude. But I don’t demand things of anyone unless I’m attacked, or ask them to justify their very existence if I don’t like something they say about guns or abortion. Live and let live or go to hell and die! XD

cookieman's avatar

I don’t see “opponents” in my life. I see things that need to get done and ways to get them done. Many of those involve other people either as help or as the recipient of the benefit of getting said thing done. As such, I strive to be as inclusive as possible with those involved. That being said, were are getting this stuff done. That’s what I do. I’m a results guy.

Now, if you’re one of those people involved, and you see me as an “opponent”, then you’re already off on the wrong foot with me.

So, if that’s the case, I want you to know that I don’t give a shit about your rivalries, pettiness, office politics, or family drama. I care about getting stuff done so we can help people – with or without you.

linguaphile's avatar

I know I’m long-winded here but, here goes. Bear with me…

1. Deaf people are NOT stupid. Many have language delays because of lack of access to a full range of language models, and for the same reason, might have odd social skills, but are not cognitively affected. Most of them get through life with access to less than 50% of the information around them—when you think about it that way… that’s damn hard, and they still do it. Many do it exceptionally well. Think about 50% or more of the information around you becoming inaccessible—what would you do?

2. No matter what Marlee Matlin et. al. can do on TV, lip reading the back of someone’s head is just not possible. Only 25% of speech sounds are visible on the lips. The rest is guesswork from context.

3. Speech and intelligence are not linked in any way. Also, speech therapy does not move with the person—if they learned to speak in Alabama, it’s not going to help them in Minnesota. I don’t speak well outside the South, but got 33 on my ACT (out of 36), got 83rd percentile on my GRE 15 years out of college, got a perfect score on all 5 of my Praxis tests, am a published writer and… Still, people think I’m stupid because of how I sound. Go out with me one day and you’ll see that most people talk to me like I’m 3 years old. Every single day. And I have to be nice about it (see #10).

4. American sign language is not English with hands flapping. It’s an intricate language with its own grammar, structure, prosody, rules, breadth and depth. It’s an amazing language that would blow your mind if you really understood it.

5. There’s more than one type of Deaf person. Some are great people, and some are just cruel or rude effers. Same as hearing people. Some identify as being disabled, some prefer to “pass” for hearing as much as they can (like many minorities in the past trying to “pass”), and some identify with the Deaf Culture. The culture exists, it’s thriving, alive, very international and… at risk. There are plenty of people working to eradicate Deafness and consequently, the Deaf Culture. The people who try to “pass” are praised and rewarded by the hearing community—they truly believe that’s the right thing to do and it’s their choice, but it does create problems for those who love and want to live within the Deaf community. If you wonder why anyone would choose to live within the Deaf community, my question back is… why would anyone choose to live within the gay, liberal, any ethnic, or any religious community?

7. Deaf people are often thrilled when they have Deaf babies. It’s not wishing a disability on a kid, not at all, but celebrating a new member of the Deaf Community. Many Deaf people like being deaf—it’s part of their identity. Many of my closest friends can hear, I’m not isolated by any means, and I wouldn’t ask to be any different than I am now, with my completely deaf ears.

8. Cochlear implants do not make someone fully hearing. I don’t have problems with the equipment themselves, only the misconceptions about their functionality. They work for up to about 5000 Hz sound frequencies- which means anything with a higher frequency is missing. That includes S, F, Th sounds and many prosody and inflection cues from speech. The sound’s also robotic and mechanical. That means many speech sounds will be accessible, but a lot of meaning from vocal cues won’t be. What’s scary is most people think all that information’s accessible, and expect it to be heard and it’s not, then get so angry at a child for not getting it. To me, that’s just terrible- punishing kids for what they can’t access, and the kid doesn’t even know what they did wrong. Also, the implants are not always successful but the for-profit corporates that make the equipment will never release their fail-rates. You only hear about the successes.

9. Many audiologists, doctors and people who work with “rescuing” deaf kids have a very paternalistic and condescending view of Deaf people. And yes, many Deaf people despise those people. They have the attitude that if we speak up, we’re being bad little deafies—we’re unappreciative and need to be silenced or scolded. They have the Doctorates, EdD’s, AudD’s or MD’s so they’re the experts… we’re just living the life and they still think don’t know what we’re talking about, even though it’s ours 24/7. One such expert on Fluther nicely scolded me on one thread some time back—I could literally feel her patting my head with her words. For me, that was nothing new. Sigh.

10. If we speak up or say anything, we’re often dismissed as being silly or overreactive. We’re often scoffed at for trying to assert our culture. Or, if like in this post, I get a bit edgy, a lot of people will dismiss what I’ve said as just a nonsensical “angry rant.” Oh, get over it. Oh, don’t you have issues? That’s funny—they would never say that to any other minority. Think about it… Native Americans, Hispanics, African-Americans, LGBTQI, Jews and women. Even Little People. They’re lucky. On the most part, they’re recognized by society at large, are considered experts in their own cultures and aren’t so easily dismissed. They fought and got respect, their voices are being listened to by most people. If you have any doubt… think about how these minorities were viewed when they first began to speak up—troublemaking injuns, disturbed women, naughty slave, etc. Any breaking away from oppression follows the same pattern.

I can keep on typing away here, but the bottom line is, I fear the Deaf Culture’s voice will never fully be listened to, for various reasons. The AGBell Association, Starkey Institute, genetic engineers (modern eugenists), etc are very, very powerful and have a singular goal to eradicate deafness. Makes me think of when they sent Native American children to white schools, or tried to pray or medicate homosexuality out of a person. I don’t know what will happen in the next 20, 50, 100 years, but I just know, and would love for my opponents to know that I love my community, I can’t thrive without it, don’t want to live without it, and have a deep desire to preserve it—I just don’t know how much of that is possible.

If you’ve made it this far into my post, thank you for reading. Your time IS appreciated.

laureth's avatar

Perhaps “opponent” was a bad choice, but I was trying to keep the title short.

Shippy's avatar

I don’t align myself to any group of any sort. I am me.

laureth's avatar

If you are “you,” there is an awfully big group of “not-you” that you could talk to!

Shippy's avatar

^^True but I am past the stage of explaining. In order to gain understanding.

Bellatrix's avatar

I wish that my kids could get that I do understand what it’s like to be young and reckless but that I also have experienced the downside of some of my youthful decisions. So when I do give them advice or suggest what they are doing might not be the best way – I am not just an old fuddy duddy trying to ruin their fun. On the flip side, I know I was just the same to my parents and I had to learn my making my own mistakes.

Bellatrix's avatar

^ by making… missed the edit window.

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