At The Westsider we always say we want to listen to you, the reader, a valued member of this diverse inner-west community. This month we’re asking you to listen to each other.

We’re presented daily with images and words highlighting a suddenly apparent and ever-widening political and social divide, with online platforms acting as a wedge and each of us joining sides, whether we have noticed it or not. The messages are plastered all over our memory walls – digital and those in our minds – and drummed into us that not only are these differences unacceptable, but that we should be really angry about them.

This month’s note isn’t to talk about the reasons it’s happening, the how, where, or who’s to blame – many of you might think you know the answers already anyway. No, it’s just to remind you to stop for a moment before you react. Consider that there are different views, and to not necessarily over-analyse them or judge their validity, just accept that they are what they are.

Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius is quoted as saying “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” So if people knew this nearly 2,000 years ago, why are we struggling with the concept now? And it was only a little over 20 years that the Manic Street Preachers said “This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours”, and yet here we are, ears and minds closed, stuck somewhere out there on the spectrum of opinion; immovable, angry and miserable.

Yes we are being exposed to each other’s inner thoughts and feelings in ways that we never have been before, but before social media harped on about it, we didn’t seem to have a problem with each other. My neighbours barracked for Collingwood. I had friends that voted for the “other” party, and people passing me in the street would sometimes stare at my yellow socks (and ankle freezers) and smirk. Mildly annoying at the time, but not worthy of me finding a tribe of like-minded folk, and bringing out the pitchforks.

It might sometimes feel like these differences are irreconcilable, I hope that they are not, but by listening and considering, we might remember that we had plenty of common ground not too long ago.

Derek Green,
Managing Editor, The Westsider


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