When we hear something we agree with, we instinctively and involuntarily process it as fact. The problem is, we recognize this tendency only in others and grow frustrated with their inability to “see” the “facts” through our biased lenses.
The added layer that few seem to want to discuss is that “facts” and their significance are shaped and filtered by values. In other words, even objectivity has subjective skin. Every “objective” decision still comes down to some level of subjective choice between competing values, which in turn causes us to attach certain meaning and significance to some “facts” while discounting or being blind to others. Values drive how we define issues and ultimately how we solve them.
To carefully examine and select one’s values is, perhaps, the highest exercise of freedom. To recognize and acknowledge that freedom in others may be the highest expression of respect and humanity.
Ultimately, it means that, while most of our discussion is sloppily directed at issues and solutions, agreement and meaningful discussion on points of contention can only occur at the values level. It may be too late for this generation to comprehend this, but it’s not too late for our children. This is what we should be teaching them.