Ok here's a controversial topic. I read in today's Sydney Morning Herald that a contestant in Miss USA is in hot water for giving the "wrong" answer to a question from a judge. (Read the article here)
The question to the contestant was essentially about whether she supported gay marriage. She basically said no. Her answer has been surrounded in controversy and even being touted as the reason she didn't win.
Here's my view....she was asked the question and she gave her honest opinion. It may not have been the wisest thing to do given that it probably cost her the crown. However, I personally think she has done the right thing because she didn't compromise on her belief at the time of the question when there is a great deal of pressure to say what you think everyone wants to hear.
Now here's the thing....instead of berating her and chastising her I think the right thing to do is to educate her on the discrimination that homosexuals have had to put up with for eons. I'm not gay but I certainly think that EVERYONE should be treated equally no matter what their belief etc.....I personally think it is appalling that homosexuals are treated poorly simply because they have love for another person who happens to be of the same gender. I know that there are many people who don't think this way and that's fine. When this topic comes up in conversation I normally attempt to get people to become more aware of their own thinking and reasoning (reflection) and to get them to make their thinking and reasoning visible to me.
In one of my favourite books (The 5th Discipline Fieldbook) there is something called "The Ladder of Inference". In short it is a mental model of how people generate attitudes toward things, people etc....The book says that...."Our ability to achieve results we truly desire is eroded by our feelings that: our beliefs are the truth, the truth is obvious, our beliefs are based on real data, the data we select are the real data."
So if you start with the wrong data you are on a road to nowhere. This is one reason that as an engineer it is important to obtain the right data. But you won't know what the right data is until you compare lots of it.
So getting back to the topic....if people have views that are different to yours then get them to reflect on how they came to have that view. Who knows you may even start to question and reflect your own ladder of inference. This is the start of dialogue - something needed in our world.
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