You tell me, smugly, that you had gotten to page forty of an eighty-page novel so you were halfway finished but I thought you still had half of the book to complete. Then, we argued endlessly because you saw the cup half full while I saw it half empty. Our differing opinions blind us to the fact that you have hit the half-way mark. Our argument would be baseless because our evaluations are correct albeit subject to our perspectives.
Two friends could form varying opinions on the same subject, not due to their desire to simulate conflict but as a result of their varying perspectives. Our opinions subject to the way we see things could and has led to damaging conflicts. Without being labeled a prophet of doom, more conflicts abound, as a result of our inability to tolerate our differing opinions, unless we learn to appreciate the other opinion. In appreciating the other opinion, it becomes easier to perceive the situation from the other standpoint.
In seeking for a tolerance of perspectives, I am not asking you to validate another’s opinion at the expense of yours. No. I am asking you to look beyond your differing opinions, realize the core of the subject topic and reason the other opinion in the shoes of the other person, however small they may be. In tolerating the other’s perspective, you may not agree but you accept because you realize that we are looking in through different window panes. When you flip a coin, you either get heads or tails depending on your standpoint and it’s wonderful to see both but don’t invalidate my perspective based on your standpoint.
Freedom of speech and entitlement to one’s opinion are basic rights. Yes. In your entitlement, you are concerned with your opinions only and could care less about another’s expression of their right. No. Your view is not perfect. It could be skewed to the left or the right, so you who made you judge? You wear your wristwatch on your left hand, I wear mine on my right hand. You think I’m stupid for wearing it on my right hand, I think you’re stupid for wearing it on your left hand. Ten minutes after, we’re still insulting each other in a bid to make our opinion prevalent but at the end of the day, we’re both wearing watches that, hopefully, tell the time.
Religious crisis abounds in Nigeria with kidnaps and suicide bomb attacks because of a need to invalidate the other’s perspectives. Ethnic groups stand apart because I choose to marry more than one wife while you marry one or I demand more items than you would as bride price. I am not illiterate or greedy, our perspectives are skewed because of our culture. Choosing to tolerate our differing culture-influenced perspectives would go a long way to bridging the gap and ending ethnic clashes.
Next time you encounter a differing opinion that you may not accept and are about to start an endless argument to invalidate that perspective, stop. Analyse that opinion, trying to, as difficult as it may be seen, look through the other person’s pane. Tolerance is one of the tools that we need to use to break down barriers set up from generation past.
Written By Ehuoma Uluocha.
Feature Image by Isabella Agbaje.