Open your ears instead of your mouth
It was nothing less than uncomfortable when my friends and I engaged in a serious debate over the Brett Kavanaugh case last month at our lunch table.
One of my friends criticized Kavanaugh's behavior and was disgusted by his actions, while another friend scoffed at this argument and adamantly insisted that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was lying. I was stunned to learn that one of my female friends could take the position that Ford was a liar.
Still, I listened to what she had to say and acknowledged some of the logistical points she made. I knew I wasn't thoroughly informed about the situation and wanted to understand all aspects.
She didn't change my mind, and I knew I wasn't going to change hers, but she certainly voiced a perspective I hadn't learned much about.
I feel the same slight unease when I join my other friend's family for a prayer before dinner or she invites me to church with her.
This is something I never do outside of these circumstances. It is strange to bow my head and listen to a prayer, mumbling an "Amen" that feels foreign on my lips.
I never know the Christian rock music she plays in the car, and I don't understand why music can't just be music. The unfamiliarity brings me discomfort when I find myself in that realm of her world.
She responds to my stress and anxiety by saying, "I'll pray for you," because of her religious upbringing.
Although I may not truly recognize what this signifies, and she knows this, I have come to learn that it is her way of expressing love and care. I know that when she says this, she means she will give me her strength to ensure I feel better.
In a polarized society, it is the recognition of these small differences that helps to build a better understanding of each other.
To dismiss is easy; what takes patience is listening. It is unrealistic to imagine that we can learn to agree with one another, but it is crucial that we make the decision to acknowledge the people behind the opinions.
We are a society that loves to argue over every difference of opinion or belief. We aren't even safe to choose our own pizza toppings without criticism.
There is a lot to be learned if we choose to open our ears rather than our mouths from time to time. We are not as all-knowing as we think we are.
Some might say in a perfect world, we would all be able to agree harmoniously on every topic, but I see differently.
We achieve something better in having the ability to choose our beliefs.
However, what inevitably follows is conflict — if we allow it.
I did not unfriend the girl whose political views contrasted with my own or avoid the friend that attends church every Sunday. I do not agree with their decisions, but I have my own beliefs to control.
Calli Masters is a senior at West Linn High School.