Sharing Opinions

A friend of mine posted a comment on Facebook today.  She was talking to someone who shared an opinion regarding my friend's "liberal" views on child labor in other countries.  The woman stated "I don't even have TV... I love how all you liberals automatically spout off things you know nothing about. Also...those "poor children" who have to work for pennies per day are happy to have those jobs to FEED their families. When do gooders like yourself go in and stop companies from hiring those children and poor people... Many times they starve because that was their ONLY source of income."
First, I have to say - I'm not a fan of name calling.  Probably because I have done it far too often in my life and it usually has disastrous results.  What I've realized is those words come out of our mouth, usually without thinking.  We don't even look at what we're saying as "name calling."  The term "do gooders" in her comment wasn't meant as a compliment, though.  It was a sneaky way to tuck an insult into the middle of her point.  That by itself would be enough to turn me off from listening to her.
The second thing I want to point out here is where she states "you liberals automatically spout off things you know nothing about."  Yeah - there is that name calling again but more importantly, she stereotypes AND makes an assumption about my friend's knowledge base.  Is she certain my friend doesn't know what she's talking about?  Does she know for an absolute certainty my friend has never talked to any of these "poor people" who "have to work for pennies per day?"  Probably not. 
This woman wasn't trying to make - or disprove - any kind of valid point.  Instead, she attempted to make my friend feel foolish, stupid and ignorant.  I'd be curious to ask her if she was part of her debate club in school.  If she ever had any kind of class on building a constructive argument.  I'm not against her having a view different from my friend.  This country was built on allowing differences of opinion.  I sometimes wonder, though, if we haven't strayed so far from being capable of stating a persuasive argument that the only way we know to share a differing opinion is to denigrate the person who doesn't agree with us.
That doesn't state our case at all persuasively.  It instead creates antagonism toward each other and then nothing is heard.  It's how feuds get started... and wars... 
I disagree with this woman on many levels but that isn't what I'm talking about today.  That would require a post all of its own, a lot of writing and re-writing and I'm not going there this morning.  What I wonder, actually, is what would happen if we called people who spoke that way to us on the carpet?  What if we asked them, politely, to back up what they just said?  How would that woman have reacted if my friend had asked her, point blank, what proof she had "those poor people" ARE happy to "work for pennies?"  What were the statistics, who had she talked to, what had she read?  Also, I would have probably asked her how she was so certain my friend didn't know what she was talking about.  How in depth had this woman gone into my friend's experiences to make such an accusation? 
Don't get me wrong - this wording is quite antagonistic and I realize that.  I'd probably word it exactly as I've written it but smarter people than me could definitely figure out a way to say it more diplomatically.  If they chose.
Say what you want about Jesus (and some of those comments would probably require a blog post of their own, too) but you can't argue too much with his methods of teaching.  He was incredibly persuasive often because his way of teaching involved asking those he taught a question.  He didn't lecture.  He didn't name call.  He didn't denigrate those who were listening to Him.  He "astonished" the Pharisees and scribes because He taught as one with authority.  Even those who sought to kill Him had to admit He knew what He was talking about and in those days, that wasn't so easy to do.  They didn't have college level classes on line in those days...  People then sat at the feet of teachers for years, learning all they could.  How did He gain and maintain such authority?  By teaching in such a manner as to be respected.  He made people think for themselves, rarely giving answers - just answering questions with more questions.
Perhaps it's time we stop trying to force others to swallow our opinions.  Perhaps it's time we converse in questions and with a sense of respecting another's thoughts - even if they are completely wrong.  Respect does not mean agree and does not mean condone.  It means treating others as we want to be treated.
Yup...that one is biblical, too....

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