At the past two Republican debates, the audience has cheered for the death of their fellow man. Last week in California, the crowd hooted and hollered when the moderator, Brian Williams, mentioned that Rick Perry has been responsible for the most amount of executions of any governor in history. This week, some members in the audience yelled for a hypothetical 30-year old uninsured man who had faced a tragedy to die.
My instinct in both cases was to cringe in disgust. I wanted to distance myself from those who feel self-righteous enough to call for another human's death. That does not sync with my values.
But another urge soon struck me, a wish to understand. The death of over 200 people is a reason to cry for me, no matter how the justice system judges them. But not for this crowd of people. Perhaps they view the world in terms of good and bad. The good must be preserved; the bad must be extinguished. I can't relate. But I can try to understand.
When humans are suffering, I believe it the duty of all humans to help them. it doesn't matter if they've made mistakes in the past. The folks yelling in the last debate don't agree with me. Perhaps they feel that life is something that must be earned; we are all responsible only for our own. This is antithetical to my system of beliefs, but I know I don't have all the answers.
It's essential to listen to opposing points of view. Not all will be valid. But only through understanding a person's reasoning can we determine the validity of said viewpoint. By understanding other's beliefs we understand our own better.