A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Eric Rittmeyer: Opposing points of view; why can’t we accept them? Will civil conversations come back?


If I was to say “it’s 70 degrees outside,” I would be stating a fact. Anyone could walk outside with a thermometer and very easily confirm this.

Now if I was to say “70 degrees is hot,” I would be stating MY perception of what I consider to be hot.

And if you were to say “70 degrees is cold,” you would be stating what YOUR perception of cold is.

Am I right to say it’s hot? Are you wrong to say it’s cold?

I think you see where I’m going with this.

In real life (which I sincerely question whether or not we’ve been living in recently), we have “facts” and we have “truths.”

Eric Rittmeyer

A fact is a fact. You can’t change it.

“The temperature is currently 70 degrees.”

“Yesterday the stock market closed at 27,901.98.”

A truth is a perception. It’s very subjective because it’s determined by how each one of us feel about something.

I might think 70 degrees is cool if I was from Florida.

You would probably think it’s hot if you were from Alaska.

My “opinion” on any given topic is most likely going to be different than yours.

For the longest time, let’s just say the last thousand or so years (give or take a couple hundred), this was a good thing.

I had thoughts/feelings/beliefs/dislikes/disdain towards things that were polar opposite of yours. And vice versa.

Welp, welcome to 2020……

In case you’ve just returned from an extended stay on the International Space Station (which if you have, I’d recommend you call Elon and ask for a one-way ticket back), we now live in a nation where opposing points of view are frowned upon.

Once upon a time, we were able to able to have disagreements with people.

If there was a topic we couldn’t agree on, we could at least give the other person the respect of hearing them out and making them feel as though we understood their stance. Even if we had totally opposing opinions.

Those days are long gone, unfortunately.

We now live in a time where the foundation of our rebuttals on those we disagree with are instantly rooted in anger, delusion, and the assumption of that person’s worst intentions.

What exactly has changed with our society that makes this the new norm?

Click to see more about the book.

More importantly, how did we become this “outrage culture?”

Why are we hypersensitive?

Why are we angry at everything?

It’s making people crazy and extremely unhappy. It’s ripping apart the cultural fabric of our country and it’s getting harder for us to share anything we each other anymore.

I believe this is the direct result of a society that hasn’t been taught any type of “emotional vocabulary.” A way to articulate our feelings towards others in a way that keeps our emotions under control.

We’ve lost the ability to accept facts, and instead, we rely solely on narrative and emotion. The minute someone produces any type of statistical data that conflicts with our beliefs, we automatically default to defense mechanisms.

We’re all so ensconced in our political bubbles that we can’t even differentiate between right and wrong anymore.

Why are we unable to see how crazy things are?

It truly has nothing to do with anything other than insane ideas.

Some things are bigger than partisanship, and we all need to make conscious efforts to start applying more mental energy towards the things that bring us together, as opposed to the things that separate us.

We’re all hard-wired the same way; that’s what’s so great about humans. We’re just different variations of the same core psychological blueprint.

The sooner we ALL can realize this very simple concept, the sooner we start being able to have civil conversations again.

Eric Rittmeyer is a former U.S. Marine and an expert in the fields of mental toughness and emotional intelligence. He has been a professional speaker for the past decade and is a regular guest on numerous television outlets. He is the author of The Emotional Marine — 68 Mental Toughness and Emotional Intelligence Secrets to Make Anyone Instantly Like You.
 


Recent Posts

Leave a Comment