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Yesterday I was listening to a local talk show as I drove to pick my lovely wife up from work.  The discussion that was taking place was heated, with the guest continually attempting to paint the host’s views in a negative manner.  The problem was that anyone that was actually listening to the show knew that what the host was saying and what they were being accused of saying were different as night and day.

That’s when I realized I was, once again, listening to zealot radio.

This, unfortunately, is becoming the norm in today’s media.  Objectivity flew the coop years ago in most “news” outlets, but it is being replaced by a shrillness and unbending dedication that is a little scary.  Don’t get me wrong, I respect someone who has a passion about an issue, even when I disagree with them.  Anyone who has a deep-seated belief on any topic and is willing to stand up and fight for that belief is worthy of praise.  But there is a fine line about the passionate advocate and the zealot.

An advocate is able to have a reasonable debate.  They are willing to listen to the point of view of the opposing camp and respond to it with intelligent, insightful rebuttal.  The zealot listens, but doesn’t hear.  They are listen for certain words they key in on to formulate their next withering attack.  They are the epitome of unreasonable.

The truth of the matter is that most issues are not as black and white as some people would like us to believe.  I can agree with you on points one through nine of your ten-point platform while disagreeing with point ten.  And, if I can provide a clear, concise, logical reason for that disagreement I would expect that we could discuss the issue reasonably and logically.  If I present you with a viewpoint counter to your own in a calm and logical manner and you cannot reciprocate, who is the unreasonable one in our discussion?

Are there black and white issues out there?  Absolutely.  And I believe, as Toby Keith put it, “there’s no right way to do the wrong thing.”  But, to approach every issue as a I’m right/you’re wrong scenario is to live in a world without any dimension or depth.  The gray areas in some issues are what give the world that dimension and depth.

And, there may be many right ways to do the right thing.  Just because we disagree doesn’t devalue my opinion, or yours.


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