Stop arguing and start listening

We need to be more respectful in our dialogue and conversation

Going into a discussion about same-sex marriage is like going into battle: Get your armor, sword and a backup, because this is vicious territory.

Last week’s 25th annual Ethics Awareness Week presented a two-part discussion on same-sex marriage attended to by Wayne State University associate professor John Corvino and Bill Duncan, director of The Marriage Law Foundation.

Duncan’s points seemed well-researched, well thought-out and well-presented. He defined marriage as, “A publicly acknowledged and supported sexual union” and emphasized the importance of marriage in regulating the production of children and society. Duncan explained that the state does not create marriage, it merely recognizes it. Duncan said marriage serves a definite purpose, and same-sex marriage is not to provide parents and rear children, but to satisfy the individual’s desires.

Talking about same-sex marriage seems to raise a crowd of otherwise calm people to a level of frenzied anger and passionate rhetoric. Indeed, when Duncan opened the floor to questions, hands went up and respondents began raising voices proclaiming Duncan’s claims as false, while others scoffed in turn at them.

On that note, some readers may be waiting for me to say which side of the fence I’m on, so you can either welcome me with open arms to “the truth,” or unleash a firestorm of criticism, depending on my stance.

In light of the Ethics Awareness Week, I’d like to comment on the disgusting attitude we’ve developed in “conversing” about this topic.

Like I said, nothing seems to turn people against each other and highlight hatred faster than talking about same-sex marriage. “Open-minded” supporters lash out against opponents as being closed-minded, homophobic, fearful and holding everyone back. On the other side of the field, “traditional Christians” accuse their opponents of being godless heretics, disrespectful and ignorant.

To me, this seems slightly ironic. Might I suggest, my fellow Americans, that we all calm down a bit? Stop the yelling, insulting, hating and acting like children. Let’s stop thinking “us vs. them” and work together to find a solution.

Sadly, I don’t think this will happen anytime soon. Our society has become disgustingly entertainment-driven. We no longer become passionate about something because we have taken time to study it. We prefer sound bites and flashing lights. We want to see fighting in place of intelligent debate and logical deliberation.

Our attention wanes if a YouTube video is longer than four minutes. Give it to us in 140 characters or less, and then make us laugh. Sensationalism, craziness and being viral online are what’s important. How is a healthy public forum to exist in this environment?

Maybe it’s too much to just ask us to calm down and respect opinions, so here’s a little kick-start to get you going.

Defenders of same-sex marriage: Stop asking others to “not bring God or morals into the discussion.” For many people, religion and their moral understanding are key parts of their world-view. This is legitimate, a reality, and should be understood and accepted as part of their opinion. Some believe that homosexuality is a sin, so stop insisting that they keep religion out.

Advocates of traditional marriage: Stop acting like this is the worst thing to ever happen in the world. Most proponents of same-sex marriage are not interested in creating a nation of homosexuals, nor do they want to destroy your children, way of life or long-held, cherished traditions. They honestly just want to live happy lives.

Supporters of same-sex marriage: Stop yelling and insulting. Supporters of traditional marriage: Stop yelling and insulting.

Get the idea yet? Voltaire said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

I don’t agree with everything Duncan said, and I’m sure I would have differences of opinion about the points given in the opposing speech, “The Meaning of (Gay) Marriage,” but I’m willing to listen to both, give equal weight to them and leave my ideas open to change, willingly accepting that as growth and a betterment of myself.

Come on, people. Let’s be adults, respect each other and listen. Stop the attacks and move forward, because what we’re doing now is getting ridiculous.

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