I like having you guys debate things. It's always interesting to me to see how people do when told to research the opposing side. Especially if they are vehemently opposed to the side they're researching.
I know being staunchly on your side is all the rage these days, what with anyone and everyone getting offended about everything (and, let's be real, some pretty offensive stuff going on out there), but there's also that crazy little notion of asking "why?"
Why does the other side think this? Why aren't they budging? Without focusing on what it is they're saying: why are they saying it?
There's a great quote floating around out there for all your writers who love a good villain. It goes something like this (paraphrasing): "You'll never understand a villain until you know why he is the hero in his own mind."
Everyone is going to see themselves as the one who is right. The more informed one. The more compassionate one. The more intelligent one. Whatever it is - just about everyone you meet is going to feel this way about themselves, particularly when dealing with those really deep dark issues that no one seems to be able to agree on. There's a whole lot of finger-pointing and pontificating and backstabbing and mudslinging, and a lot less actual conversation or change than we would like to think.
Because to our side, the other side is villainous. But it's doubtful they're over there just wringing their hands, cackling, and hoping the world goes up in smoke. Whatever misinformed or untruthful stance they have, it's because it's rooted a deep conviction - a belief system that it's very likely we know nothing about. And within that belief system, it's actually us who are the villains.
If we never take the time to understand why they do what they do, how can we expect them to change? By wagging our finger at them a lot until they're so guilty they break down and conform? Doesn't seem to work very well. But seeing where they come from - not as a means of overhauling our own beliefs, but as a ways to understand them as our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ - THAT is what will change the world.
CYM, St. John the Evangelist