I am in an agitated state this morning. I consider myself open-minded and tolerant. Thus by definition, I make an attempt to understand all viewpoints, research the facts and learn about the associated history of the relative topic. Through this process, I know that the world is not black and white and that there are so many shades of gray that it hurts my brain sometimes.
I am astounded, repeatedly, at how little effort many people put forth to educate themselves about complex and troubling issues. If there is a heated discussion that has been going on for years or decades then I assure you that hours and hours of reading and talking to knowledgeable people are required to understand why the issue is so polarizing.
Most importantly, people should study history - constantly. History has a very bad habit of repeating itself. History also shows how a series of decisions and occurrences, that appear unrelated, may actually be key factors in a current situation. With the Internet and search engines, it is so easy to do quick and reliable research on topics. However, many of today's complicated controversies require reading books, watching documentaries and even taking a class to fully comprehend. Additionally, before we make judgements on groups of people, it is essential that we interact and get to know individuals in the targeted group. Ideally, we connect one to one in person however that is not always practical thus the Internet can bridge gaps here as well. For example, a TED talk can be surprisingly intimate.
It is important to resist reacting to sound bites, inflammatory one-liners and misleading images. Spend the time to educate yourself, your partner, your friends and most importantly your kids! Teach them, not just your opinion, but how to form their own opinion through a credible process of gathering information.
People will still disagree but at least we have a level playing field of logical thinking. We are all human beings who deserve mutual respect of our histories and how that history plays out in today's world.