[OPINION] Contrasting views: A requisite for progress

Renbrandt Tangonan

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[OPINION] Contrasting views: A requisite for progress
'Without contrasting points of view, the flavor of society shall sooner become bland and dreary'

We live in a highly egotistical era, where cancel culture pervades even the pettiest forms of social interaction. If your viewpoint differs from mine, then we cannot be the fondest of friends. If you do not support the candidate of my choice during elections, then I must sever ties with you. This has been our virtual reality, and one can only hope to prevent the worst from happening: that it shall have imperceptibly crawled into our physical relationships long before we ever notice.

Imagine if this were to be the case for our intestinal microbiome, where we strive to eliminate diversity and needlessly shove uniformity down our throats. Our biological system would never prosper. Our gut would fail to digest and process nutrients. Consequently, our immunity from certain illnesses would dwindle. We know this to be true since our bodies and environments flourish in the diversity of organisms, biofluids, and microdata. This is Grade 5 science, and it is indisputable.

Therefore, if we want to actualize progress, and eliminate harmful elements in our societies, we must commit to and pursue healthy discussions with contrasting views from people of different backgrounds and sensibilities, since respect differs from passive acceptance. 

Let this commitment begin in our families; in our homes, where the cradle of life is launched. How beautiful it is when mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers live in harmonious bond. And while most of us dream of a perfect family life that is perhaps shown in the absence of drama, numerous studies have demonstrated that disagreements are a healthy part of a home. Among them, Segrin and Flora, through literature published in 2018, proved that effective resolution of conflicts in the family enables our young people to negotiate and manage compromises, building a solid foundation to establish strong and meaningful relationships throughout their lives. Before pointing fingers at our political systems, at our educational orientations, we must return to the base, to our most basic unit. This is where leaders and policy framers are born. This is where teachers and educators are first instructed. This is the core and root of healthy, stable, and progressive communities. 

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Once we have ensured harmony at the core of society, at the micro-levels which we have formerly discussed, we must shift our focus towards the mezzo level: our schools, our places of work, and our duly constituted institutions. One word shall reinforce our very aspirations for this sector: inclusivity. This is the measure of how culturally competent we are in ensuring that nobody, no matter how different or strange, is ever left behind.

This commitment is an indicator of how a truly human civilization operates. We can draw some inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, an icon of civil rights and freedom across the world, whose words and example reverberate up to our time: “The true measure of any society is found in the caring for its most vulnerable and marginalized members.” This may also include respect for diversity, dissenting opinions, and contrasting views. If we are often too lost and drunk in our passion for extremist ideas, along with the desire to be on centerstage, which often unnecessarily disregards and undermines varying perspectives for constructive feedback, may we always be reminded of this commitment. 

When the core, base, and middle deck of our communities are effectively groomed for diversity, the whole nation follows suit and progress becomes irrefutable. This is the blessing of being connected in a fraternal way despite the seeming differences we collectively share. Our opposing views may be at odds with the vision we dream about, but surely, these very same conflicting voices are complementary.

We need a fusion of flavors to make the recipe of progress appetizing, edible, and eventually, possible. Without contrasting points of view, the flavor of society shall sooner become bland and dreary. We will soon lose the appetite for dialogue, for negotiations, for necessary interpellations to arrive at better laws. We will lose what it means to be human: to advance despite adversities and to flourish amid diversities.

While we need not accept erring and fallacious claims, may we always have the heart to listen to and exercise unconditional positive regard for all persons regardless of background. This is what it means to be human and to be humane. After all, progress is dependent on peace and peace shall spring forth only when we learn to do justice; to acknowledge, adapt, and live in diversity. After all, if we are truly advocates of the common good, we will also hold fast and be reminded that the good of all necessitates freedom, safety, dignity, inclusivity, and diversity. –

Renbrandt Tangonan is a 25-year-old Batangueño social worker, specializing in advocacy and communications for programs and policy development. He is presently engaged with the Commission on Social Action of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Lipa.

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