Shortly after this tragedy, someone sent a letter to the editor of my local newspaper saying that anyone who does not believe in greater gun control is stupid! The next day the same newspaper printed a response from someone saying that anyone who wanted greater gun control was crazy!
On the political scene, Donald Trump is calling Hillary Clinton a liar and crooked while she is saying he is a racist and unfit to be president.
Does this lack of civility contribute to the violence that seems to be invading our culture? Is it part of the reason why someone believes he (or she) has the right to kill another when they do not share their point of view?
Why are we “crazy” or “stupid” or “un-American” just because our view of how to solve a problem is different than someone else’s view?
We all have our own values and beliefs, most of which were formed when we were young. And we all see the world through the lens of those values and beliefs. We are not wrong or crazy or stupid because we hold those beliefs—it is simply our view of the world.
In mediation, we try to help people settle their differences by developing a better understanding of the other person. This doesn’t mean that we agree with the other person. But it does mean that we are willing to listen respectfully and without judgment, and make the effort to understand the other person.
Can’t we simply disagree with someone about how to solve a problem without making the other person wrong or stupid or crooked? In short, can’t we simply disagree without being disagreeable?