Listen Too to be Listened Too

Joe Chigbrow, Reporter

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Boise high is arguably one of the most unique and different schools in the entire state of Idaho. Not only are we a standout school in education, but our culture very obviously separates us from that of the normal high schools in the area. We have strong views and we stand by them fearlessly. But do we actively listen and take in the opinions of those who differ from us in thought? Despite our good intentions and heartfelt reasoning, we often drown out the voices of our fellow students and as a result can make people feel unheard and hurt.

Common ground is crucial to any environment, and essential to a healthy conversation. The key behind common ground is understanding that both sides have the right to express their opinion, and that in the end, everyone is just trying to better the world. It doesn’t mean that just you or just them are exclusively right, it just means that we have separate views for the same goal. Senior Ethan Boehm explains that “Common ground is needed in anything,” and that “both [sides] can be completely wrong or they both can be completely right.” Common ground is especially important for the human relationships we carry so dearly. When we don’t take the time to see the problem from our side and our peer’s side, we separate ourselves from them and make them feel attacked. They will respond equally as offensive, starting this endless cycle of throwing verbal punches as to prove why we are right. This loop of hate not only destroys friendships and builds walls, but it also pushes people away from what you stand for. Making it hard to spread your ideas among the general populous.

A key, and more sinister issue, that has grown from not listening and finding common ground, is the fact that some people feel so attacked that they stop talking all the way about how they feel about issues. Boehm recounts his last two years at Boise High saying “I shut myself out 10th grade [and] 11th grade because I was too terrified to speak because [Boehm was] afraid of judgment or harassment.” The fact that anyone feels this way at our school, should be a major red flag to us. It goes against the very grain of our views that all people deserve a safe chance to speak. Senior Caden Reynolds experienced first hand the persecution we inflict upon each other so much to the point that even people of the same side began to fight. “I see a lot of people who do believe in very liberal things like medicare for all, or demilitarization, being shunned in political conversations simply because the ideas being explained aren’t ear-catchers right from the get go,” which is a problem. This kind of environment could be considered toxic and unhealthy.

We are driving a wedge into our own school simply because we can’t take the time to listen and to find common ground. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Next time someone says something you disagree with, don’t jump straight into attack mode. Instead, remind yourself that this is just a person and that everyone gets to be heard. Take the time to hear them out, and not just respond with counter arguments. Slowly, one at a time we can bring our school to a tolerant and powerful place of education. In the end you must listen to others in order to expect to be listened to.