My mom doesn’t like cats; I do. My friend prefers art classes; I prefer sociology classes. My sister enjoys one TV show; I enjoy another. None of these things will impede my relationships with any of these people, because there is room for differing opinions. In fact, diverse opinions should not only be tolerated, but welcomed and celebrated because they allow the world to grow in dynamic and creative ways.
But political opinions are more than just opinions. With political opinions, there is much more at stake than the taste of a pizza when pineapple is added — human lives can be healed or devastated due to changing political climates. Those who fail to recognize that political opinions are more than just opinions are often cozied into a nook of privilege that barres them from seeing that, when it comes to politics, lives are often carelessly tossed around and damaged due to changing ideologies, policies and laws.
Holly LaPlante, a junior women’s and gender studies and environmental studies double major, agrees that too often, political apathy is enabled by privilege. “I feel that people who say that they aren’t into politics or that politics don’t really matter often have the privilege to not be involved,” she said. She believes that all political opinions hold weight and importance because they “affect people’s lives, some people’s more than others.” She said that because these opinions have “real outcomes” for “real [people],” they are “not something that we can simply agree to disagree about and leave it at that.”
This is about who counts as a person, who deserves basic human rights and whether weapons deserve more protection than people. Within politics, there is hardly room to agree to disagree, because lives are on the line. Political apathy is selfish when people are dying due to high costs of medical care, being deported to countries they are unsafe in or being killed because of their type of body. These things are not okay, and how people should be cared for is more than a matter of harmless opinion.
Lila Roades, a sophomore history major, has found that political opinions often lead to serious consequences. She mentioned how these opinions can result in dangerous scenarios like the El Paso Shooting, a mass shooting that was motivated by racism. “When political opinions are voiced, it empowers people to take action, especially when a lot of people are saying the same thing. So, like, when we elect an openly racist president whose followers are very loudly and publicly supporting his message, people are empowered to act on it,” she said.
In the case of El Paso, the result was 22 racially-motivated murders. Opinions on race and immigration hold more weight than normal opinions. These opinions are truly causing death and tragedy for too many families.
I’ve heard that people should avoid discussing religion and politics with those they want to keep as friends. I disagree. Failing to discuss politics—and failing to know where your friends or family stand on political issues—leads to a dangerous society.
There are certain political opinions that leave room for disagreement, like tax brackets and percentages, but when it comes to the lives and dignity of people, it is important to know others’ opinions. While binary labels like Republican and Democrat should not determine who you hold as friends, ideologies like human rights—and who deserves them—should. Political opinions are perhaps the most important opinions of all, and deserve to be treated as such.
This is the opinion of Jordan Boaz, a sophomore women's and gender studies major from Denver, Colorado. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.