How to Adult: Respect

Illumination and the Power of Perspective


Freshmen Rocco Libertini and David Vennemeyer display differing opinions in the hallway, which could quickly become violent if respect is not shown.

Markus Hardy, Staff Writer

Have you ever been in a situation where something is so clear in your mind, yet someone else has a completely different idea on the same piece of reality? I’m sure that everyone did last year, when the picture of a “The Dress” spread around. Some saw black and blue, others saw white and gold.

Humans are always convinced of what we have detected using our senses. From every single sport in the history of human existence, to critical analysis of government policy, what WE sense is concrete in our minds. If we saw a reality in which the dress was black and blue, it is reality. The only reality.

The problem is, it isn’t. It almost never is.

I recall that discussions about the dress followed a fairly straight forward procession. It went like:

  1. Shouting: “I see black and blue!” “I see white and gold!”
  2. Forced Aversion: “I don’t UNDERSTAND how you can see that”
  3. Majority Authority: “Let’s vote on it…The results say more people see black and blue”
  4. Demonetization: “Therefore all of you white and gold see-ers are wrong! Something must be wrong with you.”
  5. Violence: Physical attacks on those who disagree with you (Luckily no one cared enough for this).

Things like this happen fairly often. I can remember getting into multiple fights with people over what we saw happen in a football game. It follows the same basic linear path. Last year, lots of fights have broken out at various worldwide sporting events. Some of them caused fatalities.

Inarguably the worst fights arise when people have not only facts and testimony to back up their opinions, but serious emotional stock invested in the righteousness of their cause. We see this on the political stage, on various forms of social media, and even when certain people go before large multi-national organizations to appeal to their sensibilities.

When something gets to this intense of a stage, the stakes are raised. Suddenly, it is no longer a small personal discussion; now it is a world movement, and if you have a dissenting opinion, you might be labeled “evil,” “hypocrite.” You might lose your job, get threats from people on the internet, or have people come after you with the intent to kill.

Even if someone is wrong, do they deserve all of that? Believing someone is wrong is not cause to abuse the wrong doer.

What was the one thing in the case of the color changing dress situation that calmed everything down? It was the scientific explanation of why people were able to see it differently.

In tearing apart the reality that they saw, people were forced to see that reality isn’t just what you perceive. Beyond your experiences, beyond your senses, beyond your understanding, is a wealth of different sets of those specific things. About 7.2 billion different perspectives and opinions.

People are going to disagree with you. You still need to respect their right to speak their mind, regardless of the twisted words that come out. Because one day, you may have an opinion that a majority of people think is wrong. Would you like your life to be ruined too?