Today the widely acknowledged website, Humans of New York (HONY), posted an image and story line of a gentleman which quickly sparked a variety of comments. The specific post can be viewed on their page here. I encourage you to read it and then read through the comment section to see the diverse thoughts in which it provoked.
My first reaction was, “Yikes!” I do not believe in saying 9/11 was deserved, nor do I
believe that one should say innocent people died as representatives. I like to hear one’s
opinion and discuss the reasoning, but I am not sure that I could ever understand any explanation as to why innocent people had to die (though I would allow him the opportunity to further explain himself if this were a conversation in person), so I moved on to my next thought.
My subsequent reaction was, “Wow! That’s a wild thought.” I was mainly referring to the part where he says, in reference to 9/11, “I think it was one of the greatest events in human history.” I questioned what he meant by that statement and what events happened in his background that would lead him towards this viewpoint. Next, I read through the top comments and recognized that some readers made a pretty good point. To sum it up without direct quotes, they were stating that “great” does not have to be a synonym for “good.” Then I began to reflect more. One key purpose of Ahmeli is to interact with one another, hear varying viewpoints, and then have discussions that could create change. Now, this change does not have to mean that you switch your view (though one might), it can also mean that you now understand someone else just a fraction more. Or perhaps you can say, “I don’t agree with you at all, but I understand why you think/feel that way.” This is the exact message that I felt through this HONY post; it is an opportunity to hear another person’s point of view and it stimulates a discussion (Side note: I have found that many of HONY’s posts create amazing dialogue!)
Next my attention was drawn to his statement, “All those countries are artificial.” I found this sentence interesting because often one will make assumptions about events that take place in Middle Eastern countries, yet how often do they know the history behind the shaping of the borders? This man continues to make another point as he says, “We sponsored it.” I wonder, how many Americans have researched the ways in which money was spent in the Middle East throughout the years?
It is easy to make assumptions based off of a few pieces of information that is reported, or to assume we understand exactly was someone meant during an interview, but how many times is that assumption correct? We have to move beyond assumptions and dive deeper through having dialogue with one another. This is also true with the recent events plastering our current TVs in regards to relations between minorities and the police. If we want change, conversations have to take place. People understand that we only hear/see a snippet of an interview during a news broadcast, yet we jump to assumptions based on those few words. Likewise, the wording from a headline may twist the subject into that which was not the intended meaning by the individual whom the story was about. How many times do we hear something on a news report and then take it as 100% factual? How many times do we assume that we know what the person meant from their responses that we heard? We have to move beyond assumptions, beyond complaining, beyond judging and get to meaningful dialogue that is targeted toward developing a sense of understanding for varying viewpoints and ending with a committed focus toward uniting in an effort to create sustainable change throughout our nation.
Ahmeli… that we use dialogue as the only weapon towards change.
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