Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

A Conversation?

A Conversation?

Runner-up year 11/12

Louis Denton

Year 11, Albury High School

You are wrong. Do you disagree? Then you are more wrong. Don't ask me to 'see your side of it', don't tell me to have an open mind; why should I? It's not like you'll return the favour.

But I'll relent...maybe you have some good points to make; maybe you'll say something that will make me think, or at least smile. If I listened to what you had to say, maybe we could find some common ground, something we agree on.

But no- what is an olive branch but another stick to hit me with, another weapon in your arsenal? If I started listening to you, who's to say that you wouldn't be foolish, drag me down to your level and beat me with experience? You yourself know how hard it would be to change your mind; now consider the struggle it would be for you to change mine... not worth the effort, is it? Why should we even bother; it is easier for us to trade blows than to trade stories.

You should know that it saddens me to be so adversarial. There are better ways for us to resolve our differences, I'm sure, but I don't know them; I've never been taught. I am too set in my ways, too unable to sympathise. I have no way of considering you even as a fellow human being. I can see how the polarisation of our opinions is destroying the middle ground we once held together, I can feel the perfectly good bridge being burned leaving nothing behind but a gaping chasm; yet I don't know what I can do to stop it. How can we create meaningful solutions, how can we solve real problems, when we can't even listen to each other?

As with all things, at some stage you'll have to pick a side. Big or small, right or wrong, you have to make a decision, and then you have to stick with it. You've made your decision, and I've made mine. You are wrong, I am right, and that's just how it is. We are locked in eternal conflict and to cede ground, to take one step back and lower our guard would be defeat, death. We can never step back, never step down, because defeat is not an option.

Defeat? Why must it be defeat? Surely to achieve victory would be to not fight at all. What do we achieve by being so polarised in our opinions... what does anyone achieve, all these people shouting at each other, insulting each other, tearing each other to shreds; not for any reason but a difference of opinions? Why can't everyone see that it's so terrible destroying other people, only to be attacked themselves?

So you can see that I am right... and also that I'm wrong. Maybe you are also right, but we won't ever know if we don't have the conversation. If I relent, and leave my mind open, or at least unlocked, will you do the same? I hope you will. Maybe if we have a conversation, you and I, everyone else will too... at least, hopefully some other people will, and with luck, it'll be contagious. Just because it seems like everyone else is becoming more entrenched in their opinions and viewpoints, doesn't mean we can't listen to each other, build some bridges, solve some problems. I look forward to having this conversation; do you?