I received an e-mail from a viewer in response to our coverage of federal funding of stem cell research being stopped. In it, she makes blanket accusations against President Obama, misrepresenting the facts. That’s common in many opinions shared with us (and frustrates me to no end, since my job is to give the facts, only to have them ignored, but that’s another blog post), but what bothered me most was this woman’s final sentence:
“I don’t know what side of this issue you are on, but I pray that it is the morally right one.”
The morally right one? Am I wrong that the statement just stinks of judgment and condescension? This woman stated what she believes and then labelled it as “the morally right” opinion. And, on top of that, she directed it to me specifically, praying that I, too, am on the morally right side of the debate. Oh, I am not worthy, madam!
Perhaps I’m overreacting, but I don’t think this good witness to one’s beliefs. Why would I want to take sides with someone who sees themselves as superior and, in the presentation of their opinion, is quite condescending. My immediate reaction was to ignore the content of the rest of the e-mail and allow a deep desire to completely disassociate myself with this person simply because she’s so haughty.
This brings me to another lesson I take from listening to viewer opinions and that is regarding to presentation. If I believe I am right about something and hope to convince someone else of the truth, it will more readily happen if I present it with fact, an open mind and a willingness to accept that there are opinions other than my own. That creates a comfortable environment for an honest and respectful debate. People tend to be more so willing to listen and think on opinions opposite of their own in such an environment.