A Potemkin mind


I saw this motivational quote scroll by today.

We don't need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.

I do place a high value on being friendly. I’m bored of shows like House MD that normalise or make excuses for being a jerk on account of technical brilliance.

But while this quote sounds superficially wonderful, I respectfully disagree. If someone’s opines that slavery is fine, climate denial is a reasonable alternative view, or transgendered individuals make it up to visit different bathrooms, I will not respect them or their views. In fact, I’d stand proudly in defiance of them.

It doesn’t take much to think of a veritable swath of scenarios where this wouldn’t apply, unless you’re a psychopath. And you go to dark places quickly when you say those that speak out are just sewing discontent and aren’t being respectful. The domestic response to the Hong Kong protests comes to mind, but many a religious and political conflict has started along those lines.

In the less bubbly but more profound words of George Carlin, respect is earned. Or another quote I saw on a shirt today: don’t be the same, be better.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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