When he finished speaking, I smiled and gently offered some constructive criticism. "Remember," I said, "as a Canadian soldier, you defend our society and what we value. Canadians value and uphold respect for human rights." The young man looked taken aback as my words sank in, but he took to heart what I told him. I think he understood and accepted my genial criticism of his point of view. I do not know if he succeeded in joining the Canadian Army, but I hope he is happy wherever he is today.
I think of the exchange I had with the young man when I get into discussions with people online. I get that people feel strongly about their opinions, to the extent that they are convinced their view is correct, excluding any other at times. Such dogmatic thinking is hard to withstand. I am called names and insulted frequently by others in various internet forums for sharing my thoughts. I take it in stride. I make a point of not being snide and point out that treating people who disagree this way does little to win them over. I listen to what other people say, and I heed their comments and criticism of my posts. I stand by what I write but concede when shown I am in error. I am not personally infallible. If people could stop and listen to what others think and pause before responding, imagine what we could learn. Discussion and debate are worthy pastimes. I wish more people understood there is a place for constructive criticism and correction in discourse. In the end, is it so unreasonable to ask, "can't we talk this over?"