Here’s the thing: People’s stories are valid. But more so, people’s stories are important and must be shared if a life is to become meaningful. We are all just future ghosts, and what we leave behind on this planet defines, really, whether or not we even existed. And although it may not seem like it’s important, everyone’s life is part of a tapestry and if someone is missing from that tapestry, we simply can’t get the full picture of our own lives.
That’s right: I can’t possibly understand my own life in full if you don’t allow me to understand yours. While it’s easier to understand people’s perspectives if they share at least some of my own beliefs, when someone doesn’t share my view it’s really difficult to even begin to empathize with them because if they don’t share their stories, then how can even begin to understand that part of my own life that may appear in conflict with them.
So, if some right-winger states an opinion that I think is utterly stupid, but I don’t know the person behind the opinion, then I can remain in conflict with the person even though there may not be any conflict at all. For example, I have a friend who says all kinds of mouth-garbage with which I simply can’t agree (for example, she really believes that Santa Fe’ s unisex bathroom ordinance is “evil”). However, I know her story with me and she pretty much echoes her husband’s view of the world. In truth, she has close friends who are all kinds of colors and sexual orientations and so I can accept her rantings as echoes, not as her own truth.
What’s more, is I know several people who completely disagree with everything I write and teach. However, they share their stories and so when I hear their perspectives, I hear that perhaps my own opinion is not as formed as it needs to be (or maybe I don’t exactly understand my own writings as well as I should). Regardless of how much I agree or disagree, if I didn’t know people’s stories, I would have no way of really measuring what I know or believe.
So, share your story in some way or another. Without it, there’s simply no way I can learn.