Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Disagree, Therefore You are Bad (?)

This is my "Why can't we all get along" entry.

One of my responsibilities is to publish a quarterly magazine. The editorial team does its best to develop thoughtful articles that highlight UNC Charlotte's diverse and deep scholarship, practical applied research, solutions-oriented community engagement, and stories about amazing people.

Recently, I was contacted by a reader who doesn't like the magazine. The reader called the magazine socialist crap. He believes the magazine is an example of selling out to people who want to do us harm. He didn't like that the cover of the magazine bore a middle-east flag (actually the cover bore a cross, a Star of David and a crescent moon as symbols of three of the world's major religions; the article was about the work of our esteemed religious studies department.)He didn't like a story about research into diabetes among Charlotte's Latino population, because he assumed most of them are here illegally. He believes the magazine cotributes to the ruination of a great city (the writer lives almost 2,000 miles away from Charlotte). His message communicated frustration and anger. He said I have a lot to learn.

The reader is correct that I have a lot to learn. I hope I never stop learning.

One of the things I haven't really learned is why some people respond so vehemently and politically to things they don't agree with. Granted, every one has their opinion, and those opinions are shaped by one's personal experiences. And, it takes all kinds to make the world go 'round. I respect this reader's opinion and even respect the rather coarse way in which he expressed it to me. But why did he feel the need to lash out? To me, his anger must grow out of fear. People are fearful about all sorts of things and during times of economic hardship and exceptional uncertainty, fears get aggravated. Sometimes the fear finds expression in actions of frustration, resentment, exasperation, hate -- or spiritual development, open-minded attempts to understand, comedy and even expressions of love.

Personally, I am not fearful about the future of greater Charlotte, nor of the future of the United States of America. I believe in our essenital strength and in a free market of ideas. I believe that through the crucible of representative democracy and forces of the marketplace come decisions and actions that we are pledged to live with until the same process creates changes -- and that the process of change is continual.

I'm not offended by the reader who contacted me. I neither resent him nor feel sorry for him. I wish him well and hope that he'll find liberation from fear.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm astounded that you received a mail so vehemently opposed to UNC Charlotte magazine content. Your response and your insight, however, make me proud. Very thoughtfu and very intuitive.