Let Us Dissent

I wonder why we need to be right.  I confess that I have that need.  I have opinions and I believe they are right.

But if we truly believe in freedom of speech, then we need to allow dissenting voices to be heard.  Even if we don’t agree with.  Understanding something isn’t the same as accepting it as correct or right.

In the current climate, racial prejudice is a taboo.  We believe that all humans are created equal, or at least that’s the value we’re trying to uphold.  I agree with that.  But others don’t.

We believe in freedom of speech, but when white supremacists speak up, we condemn them.  We tell them that they shouldn’t feel that way, that they are wrong and they are not welcome.  I don’t believe that white people are superior, but that comes across to me like we’re making them suffer the same fate that civil rights activists had to suffer.  Is it right to oppress those who have oppressive view points?

Hearing them out is not the same thing as agreeing them.  I don’t believe that we can come to true consensus or understanding by declaring certain values to be acceptable while others are to be oppressed and suppressed.  Even if some of us deem those values to represent less mature, childish ways.

I believe in equal rights for people of varying sexual orientations and identities.  But many others don’t.  My saying that I am right and they shouldn’t feel or think the way they do doesn’t seem constructive, or even fair.  I believe in tolerance, but that tolerance, if really true and mature, can tolerate not just the voices of oppressed, but oppressors, without allowing them to actually oppress.  Or without their opinion letting me feel oppressed.

Now I am talking idealism, I also have to confess that the idea of white supremacy and male supremacy feels threatening.  I am an ethnic minority in this country, though I am of the historically privileged gender.  Words do have power, and they can cut or hurt.  I wish for all opinions to be presented gently and respectfully, so that we can work on understanding each other, bypassing that threat.

I wish to sit down with white supremacists and hear them out.  Understand why they feel how they feel, what reasons they have.  I wish to sit down with those who don’t believe same sex couples should marry.  To understand, but also be understood, why I disagree with that point of view.  Civilly, peacefully, respectfully.

I know I’m dreaming.  But one can dream, right?  Dreams can come true.  Especially if we work on them.