We cannot simply place ourselves in a position where we religiously believe the dogma of a specific side of politics. We must inform ourselves, so that we can make the best decisions, and have calm and reasonable disagreements.
By Martin Boga, 2017 Youth Premier and Youth Member for Nudgee
You’re entitled to your opinion. Everyone is. Through arguing, debating and sharing our opinions we refine them, hopefully for the better, taking on new information in a constructive manner.
Yet we see time and time again, arguments descending quickly into the pop politics polarisation of left and right. Those positions have always been here. They’ve never gone away, but distancing yourself to one end of a political spectrum for all debate, and being stagnant in that corner regardless of any information to the contrary, causes all arguments to descend into a shouting match. I’ve seen this first hand.
Whilst an avid supporter of the need to advocate for environmental issues, and a supporter of the Stop Adani campaign, I was invited to a breakfast with Deputy PM Baranaby Joyce. This is a man who has very different views to me but I thought it necessary to hear what he had to say, in order to become better informed on the debate.
Whilst walking outside the Maroochy Surf Club, where this meeting was to be held, a large group of Stop Adani activists had gathered to protest. I thought this was great: make your voice heard. Whilst making my way past them, however, I was thrown abuse, shouts of ‘young liberal rich kid’, and of course, some classics about my choice of hairstyle.
I have to wonder what the exact purpose of this kind of rhetoric is. For someone who, unlike me, was already for the Carmichael Coal Mine, or held a sceptical stance on climate change, this kind of abuse spewing would drive them to more deeply hold their convictions, and view the environmental movement as being filled with ignorant bullies. A person driven to further hatred will obviously be unwilling to even consider the argument, let alone change their mind.
This kind of polarisation is the cause behind so many of the issues we see today. The rigid belief in a god emperor, smashing PC culture; and on the other end, the necessity to personally victimize anyone who even considers the economic and social value of a proposed mine.
We cannot simply place ourselves in a position where we religiously believe the dogma of a specific side of politics. We must inform ourselves, so that we can make the best decisions, and have calm and reasonable discussion with those who would disagree with us. Otherwise, we are simply the sheep this polarisation produces; pawns in the game of those who disseminate half-truths so readily consumed by the rabid supporter.
What may happen is that through doing this you find your opinion places you at a particular end of the spectrum of politics. Regardless, if you are willing to listen and consider other sides, then you have already broken away from the dogmatic shouting match that is pop politics.
This may seem to some like a lot of unnecessary work. Why talk to people we don’t get along with? Nonetheless, this is democracy. We must. We must consider all arguments before setting in stone our beliefs. We must not spew hatred at those who have opposing views. Hatred only breeds hatred. It will never be constructive or change someone’s mind. Instead, we must be willing to have a proper discussion, listen, respect, sometimes completely disagree, but provide a decent argument, and not simply shouted abuse.
As a much greater Martin once said:
We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate;
we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity.
Martin Luther King (Jr.)