This is one of my favorite quotes. It is something that our generation desperately needs to hear. In a society that values personal freedom above all else, it is sometimes hard to find a reason to be humble. Why be a servant to others when being a jerk is encouraged by everyone who agrees with your political slant? Why actually look up the facts of an issue before having an argument with someone you disagree with, when it's simply obvious to you that the opposing side is in the wrong?
There is something radically wrong about our American-ese, Tumblr/Twitter/Facebook/speak whatever is on my mind with no consequences generation. For some reason, we have equated free speech with free stupidity. Yes, you have a legal right to say whatever is on your mind. But in the powerful words of the great Propaganda: "I know it is a much better decision to shut your mouth when you don't know what you're talking about than to validate what everyone already thinks of you."
Before you decide to rant on the internet about something that you are passionate about...do your research. This is a trap I've found myself in many times over my years of being on the internet, and it's something I've learned from. People will not respect your opinion if you don't know the facts. You are not entitled to whatever opinion you decide to have. There is a wealth of knowledge out there to be taken advantage of--there is no excuse in this day and age to be ignorant. None.
The next time someone says something that you disagree with...do not open your mouth and start telling them how very wrong they are, especially if you don't know the person. Ask them a simple question "why do you think that?" and then shut up and listen.
That's another quote to live by. And something I still have yet to learn. You'd be surprised what common ground and insight you can find with people if you just take the time to listen to their view of the world. You don't have to compromise your own convictions to keep an open mind about another's.
Again, I will reiterate Harlan Ellison's last line: "No one is entitled to be ignorant." You do not have the right (however legal it may be) to insult and judge others if you do not know them or their story. You do not have the right to look at an issue and spew hate against those who disagree with you on it...well, ever...but you certainly don't have the right to try to call someone out on their beliefs if you don't know what you're talking about.
And no, parroting information you gained from an article online or your favorite theologian, scientist, or celebrity does not count as doing your research. You can do these sorts of things yourself. And if you ever don't know enough about a topic to have a meaningful debate about it, don't try and start one. Instead, listen to both sides of the argument and tuck that information away until you can do your own research.
I wish this was something that everyone got. I wish the internet was not so filled with ignorant, hateful people who like to stir up controversy. But that's not something I can change, at least not without help. The only thing we can do is change our own attitudes, our own approach. And so, I challenge you--don't post that article on Facebook and start ranting about politics unless you really know what you're talking about. If you do, then feel free to have discussions about it, but be aware that social media is probably not the best place for it. And as always, be respectful.
No, I'm not preaching about this because I have perfected the art of not being ignorant. I have failed in this area quite a bit. But, if we're honest with ourselves, we all have. And we can all get better at it.
Here's to shutting our mouths and listening instead of speaking with ignorance.