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Please, Disagree With Me

The Las Vegas Raiders are my team. (The rest of this editorial is a few lines down, so you can take in that information, let it settle, and continue reading when you’re ready.) My family moved around a lot, but we spent many years in Colorado. For most of my teenage years, we lived in Denver - home of the Denver Broncos (barf). I would get into good-natured arguments about football all the time with everyone around me. I doled out a lot of thoughtful arguments and quips, along with some childish and witless nonsense. It’s amazing that I didn’t get punched in the face at least once a week. While no one tried to actually physically spar with me, I got my fair share of verbal punches hurled my way. It was great fun because nothing was meant as a personal attack. I loved it! In my twenties, I moved back to Los Angeles and realized that people around me also liked the Raiders. That was just... weird. Why were people cheering at the same time as me? Why was no one arguing with me? Why was no one challenging me, making me defend my team? I didn’t like it, not one bit. I was suddenly in a sports bubble and felt cutoff from the rest of the world. That sounds overly dramatic, but here’s where I will take this trivial (and mildly entertaining) anecdote and segue to an extremely important issue that our country faces. We are divided in America, and that can be wonderful! We have different political, religious, and social beliefs (just to name a few). There is nothing I love more than hearing an opinion that is different from my own. Why? I learn new information, and that makes me smarter. I gain empathy for and understanding of people with different life experiences. This also makes me smarter. I might realize I was wrong and change my mind. And now I get to be right! OR I become even more confident because I have thoughtfully weighed my beliefs against new arguments and STILL think my stance is the best. (This is the worst outcome for Broncos’ fans.) Any of those scenarios are wins, and I like winning. Without an open mind and the willingness to engage in civil debate, we all lose. Does scrimmaging with your own team make you the best? No, but it does prepare you to play against your rivals, compete with sportsmanship, enjoy the wins, and learn from the losses. I know, I know, I’m mixing metaphors and going back and forth between sports and society a bit too much. Forgive me, it’s how I make sense of things. We are divided in America, but it is NOT wonderful. We are not letting our differences make us wiser. We are not listening, we are not learning. We are not embracing the challenge of new perspectives. Most importantly, our differences are blinding us to the suffering around us, preventing us from making our country better. Great things will happen if we become a little more self-aware and find a little more time to help out our fellow Americans. Here’s my request -- Please, disagree with me. Let’s make each other better and have fun while we do it. Go Raiders!

Please, Disagree With Me
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