The Debate of Our Generation

Debates on myriad subjects seem to define generations. Race was a debate that influenced several generations, as was equality for women in a variety of spheres. What I am starting to see as the defining debate for my generation is the debate regarding acceptance and equality for those living alternative lifestyles.

The issue of homosexual marriage has polarized hundreds of my friends to either one side of the spectrum or the other. I can see several in the middle ground, but that number seems to diminish with  time as the arguments for each side become gradually harsher and more invasive.

Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe it’s not.

Ashley and I were talking about this today and it’s just remarkable to watch as a fight for equality turns into a fight to suppress otherness. Free speech is used as a pretext to tear down the honestly held beliefs of others. The relative anonymity of the internet gives verbal abuse venue. Debates turn from friendly dialogues to frustrating name calling. It’s all quite uncomfortable.

It’s interesting because even though I have strong feelings and beliefs regarding this subject, I feel scared to even repost articles or links regarding this subject because of the backlash I have seen others receive when they share their honest opinions. It’s scary when a debate is dominated by the loud rather than the reasonable. The worst part is that in our own eyes we are all reasonable. How do we bring the discussion regarding such a sensitive subject back to kindness?

I’ve watched as certain of the blogs which I read instigate comment mediation to control the hateful rhetoric and diatribes that get left for others. Recently, in an effort to ensure that that didn’t happen in the comment feed of an article I shared on Facebook, I removed certain comments that people were making, having an debate back and forth. All the people involved were and are my friends, I respect and love them and their points of view. But I was scared that things would start to escalate. I felt strange taking the comments off, even though I felt it was the right thing to do, and now I’m left with this question: How do I encourage a friendly atmosphere without offending people?

I believe like there’s a difference between expressing an honest belief to another person, and making inflammatory statements. I believe that there’s a difference between having an honest and friendly discussion, and in trying to prove someone wrong. I think that far too many people use ‘debates’ simply to try to score points for their side of the argument without regard for the other person’s feelings or even their beliefs.

Please, in all our interactions, let us be friendly and kind to those we agree with and those we don’t. Let’s not engage in angry discussion, but rather communicate with love. Let’s remember that we all have a celestial heritage and a divine potential.

C. S. Lewis