“Respect” is a relatively short word, but it is so badly needed in our society. I’m talking about respect for each other, especially in the way we communicate.
Recent articles in this paper reminded me of how important it is to show respect for the other person even when we disagree.
First, there was the recent series of articles debating whether there is a valid treaty authorizing the annexation of Hawaii by the United States (TGI, Jan. 10, 12, 16).
Also on Jan. 16, I read the letter by James “Kimo” Rosen under the headline “Trump era off to shaky start.”
As to the annexation commentaries, I love to read Hawaiian history and found these articles to be fairly well-researched and informative. What I didn’t like and found unnecessary were the insulting words one author used to describe the other. He called the other writer “a lawyer on the fringe who has spent decades championing the diehard deadenders of the Hawaiian Kingdom, trying to claim that Hawaii remains an independent nation.” Later in the article he used the term “modern-day history-twisters.”
While I have not done the research to comment on the validity of the annexation treaty issue, as these two authors have, I was happy to read their findings without the subjective insults. Each writer built his argument on evidence they had gathered. That was sufficient for me. The facts, as presented, stood by themselves. There was no need for the name- calling.
In the case of Mr. Rosen’s letter, he laments the “closet supporters” of President Trump who still refuse to acknowledge that they voted for him. I did not vote for Mr. Trump, but I join Mr. Rosen in feeling there’s something wrong when we feel we can’t discuss our political views with our fellow citizens.
I think at least part of the reason is that some might feel that they’ll be treated with disrespect if they do. So, what do we do about it?
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make a greater effort to hold dialogues with more people, especially on controversial subjects. True dialogue to me means that I promise to listen to their position without interrupting or treating them with condescension, in the spirit of sincerely trying to understand.
My hope is that the other person will treat me the same way. We may not change each other’s minds, but that’s not the point. We may continue to respectfully disagree. We will, however, understand more about the other’s views, which will make it easier to talk to each other in the future.
And that, I believe, will make for a healthier society.
Al Albergate is a resident of Princeville.