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In today’s tense climate, emotions are higher than ever when it comes to social and political issues. There are extremely drastic differences in opinion across our country, and many times something that seems very simple and obvious to one person can seem strange and wrong to someone else. For example, I think that the U.S. should absolutely let in Syrian refugees, while many other people are very frightened by this idea. I also think that girls should be allowed to wear spaghetti strap tops in school, while others are vehemently opposed to this. However much we might want to shake the people who dispute us and force them to see things our way, we have to remember to stay calm, and to try to understand their side of the story. Because, however much we may think we are right at the time, there is always a fair chance that we could be wrong, and it is important to be willing to accept this. Also, many times, there is no clear right answer, or right side.
I was in the elevator of my building the other day, leaving to go to the gym, when a girl and a guy entered the elevator. The girl had a gigantic, grey rat on her shoulder (the kind that I doubt they sell at the pet store—trust me). When she saw the shocked expression on my face, she quickly shoved the rat into her purse and, annoyed, turned to the guy, saying “see, this is always the reaction I get.” She obviously had a very different opinion than I did about how the situation looked, and about the normalcy of her actions.
It would have been fine if she had left things alone, and kept the rat in her purse, accepting that I was not a rat-lover. However, she looked at my disgusted face with a sheepish smile, and proceeded to try to force me to see things her way. She unzipped the purse so that the rat’s head poked out, held it up to my face, and said “Look! He’s so cute! Say he’s cute!”
I said nothing, and looked away, the shocked expression still on my face. She left the elevator extremely disappointed, and I am positive that both of our days were worse off from that interaction. Who is to say which one of us was right and wrong in this situation? We obviously see the world in fundamentally different ways. It would have been great if we could have sat down and had a civil conversation about it, where I educated her about rat diseases and she educated me about the joys of taking in a subway rat as a pet. However, we did not get this opportunity, and all I know for sure is that she should not have shoved that rat in my face.
The next time you are in an argument with someone over politics, or maybe even creating legislation that oppresses a large group of people, take a step back and think about whether you are shoving a rat in someone’s face.