Respect others when talking about controversial topics

     By now, I hope you have realized how everyone has opinions. Some you may agree with, and others maybe not so much. In fact, you may not even agree with what I am about to say. Controversial or not, conversations need to happen, and they must be listened to as well. 

     There are a lot of controversial topics in society today, including capital punishment, climate change, vaccines, human rights and abortion. Everything in our world seems to create division between people based on their beliefs, but why does it have to be that way? 

     I remember in elementary school when our English class formed two groups. One group was white milk, and the other was chocolate milk. We had to explain why we thought one was better than the other. While many had fun with it since we got to go against another group, it was also a very safe topic. Granted, we were all fifth graders and probably did not even know the true meaning of controversy, but playing it safe is not always a good thing. 

     As we got older and started talking about more serious topics, I figured out what issues I found interesting. When students talk about a topic like white milk vs. chocolate milk, they may not feel ownership for what they are saying. As we started discussing more serious issues, I realized what I truly cared about. 

     When talking about something controversial, you do not always have to agree with what someone is saying, but that does not mean you can interrupt, make fun of or insult anyone who does not agree with you. It is okay to disagree with someone, but you must do it respectfully. This is crucial because you have to know how to respectfully communicate your opinion without getting mad at someone for not taking your side. It will also help you listen to others and talk through differences instead of jumping to conclusions on why you think someone has one view over another. 

     By talking about controversial topics, you are using your voice for something you feel passionate about. By listening, you are getting to hear someone else’s point of view that you may not have even thought about. Consider why the controversial topic is important to the speaker to understand their point of view on the discussion before jumping to conclusions.