Illustration by Gabrielle Conlon

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from debating, it is that it is important to listen and learn, even if I don’t agree.

I watched an interesting Youtube video recently from Vox, a news channel.

The Vox video is called “Political polarization is making dating worse”. I immediately agreed without clicking on the video, assuming that I could never date anyone who is voting for Trump this upcoming November. And who could, siding with the Democratic world? The video provided stats to support my first thoughts–Democrats are so not down for dating Republicans.

Although that is not the only goal of the video. Vox wanted to see if Democrats and Trump supporters had anything in common when it came to dating. Vox attempted–and succeeded!–in getting a Democrat to go on a date with a Trump supporter.

I honestly thought that the date would end in a heated argument, especially since the Trump supporter was a white guy, and the Democratic woman was black. But they had a civil, although slightly awkward, discussion over pizza, and realized that they had more in common than they thought.

I was shocked initially because the white guy seemed so laid-back–I usually picture Trump supporters as aggressive and hard to approach. I was also surprised that the black woman listened to the white guy openly. I expected them both to be really defensive, but they ended up learning a lot about each other–learning that, as I said earlier, that they had a lot more common than thought previously.  

While debating in class, I’ve found that while my views on politics or race differ from my peers, we generally can agree on a few things: that the subject is screwed up, that there should be a change. Initially, I thought that while debating, that my classmates seriously hated me or the world to say some of the things they were saying. But this just wasn’t the case most of the time. Either I wasn’t understanding completely, they weren’t, or we just had different approaches to solve the same problem.

Ultimately, after watching the Vox video and learning how to listen more during a debate, I have come to the conclusion that listening to things I don’t agree with can expand my mind anyway. Whether I am just learning more about an opposing view, seeing how different solutions to a problem can work, or just learning about how people think in general.

Although I know some arguments I’ll get into will be downright absurd, at least I have the confidence now to stand my ground, reason, and support my argument. And knowing an opposing view to yours and seeing the holes through it will always make an argument better.

This month’s theme is “Understanding”. Last month’s theme was “Flaws,” where we looked at ourselves and our lives and the flaws in it. Maybe this month you can understand how the views towards your flaws came to be. Maybe you can talk to someone you disagree with and genuinely try to understand their point of view.

As always, you can submit drafts–and not pitches!–to us, so we can hear your voice. Especially when it comes to the presidential season here in America, or any other political topics going on in your respective countries. Or, anywhere else!

Have a great August!