Fight fire with kindness

In light of the many terrorist attacks that have happened and covered in the news cycle, don’t fight fire with fire.

I know that this publication has covered this idea in opinion pieces past, but I feel that this sentiment should be brought up again, since it’s still very important to note. In a world where tragic terrorist attacks get reported almost constantly in the rapid turnover of the 24 hour news cycle, always keep in mind that the actions of a few are not always the actions of many.

Especially with regard to religion, don’t disagree with someone just to disagree with someone. If you do disagree, disagree politely and respectfully. As the European refugee crisis was being reported, and still is in some capacity, even without outside media coverage.

There is a fear that I believe is misplaced, due to the tendency of people to lump others that disagree into boxes. An example of these such “boxes” is the stereotype that religious people are all stuck in the past, and that religion is simply a long gone product of early historical ignorance. It never ends well, because people usually go into the discussion to “win”, and that goes against the whole point of any decent discussion.

In a video published on the BBC’s website asking Belgians to describe their thoughts on the attacks in Brussels, many replied with words like, “frustrated” and “sad.” But the thing that really stood out in the video was the inclusion of two women in hijabs, whom said many of the same things that the other, mainly white, interviewees said.

Even though they were “different” in terms of outside appearance, they were still Belgian citizens in the end. There was no special distinction other than clothing and skin color; in the end they were simply Belgian people. In that same manner, people who disagree with your ideals are still people in the end. They are people that deserve to have their side heard if they’re being respectful with you.

Dismissing Islam as one and the same with ISIS is to not only muddle an extremely complex issue into something incomprehensible, but it runs contrary to one of America’s greatest benefits: the variety and diversity of voices that all bring something new to the table.

When we dismiss immediately the beliefs of believers in Islam, we dismiss the opinions of Americans, and that can lead to dangerous territories, especially with some detractors of Islam proposing “Muslim identification,” which singles out a single subset of American people on an arbitrary basis.

There are always two sides to an issue, whether you like it or not, and it’s not always going to be easy to respectfully disagree with the ideas of others. I’ve personally dismissed people on first glance many times myself, but I try not to.

People are smarter when they listen to and respectfully disagree with other viewpoints, and the world is a better place when you just listen to someone’s part of the story first.