pádraig ó tuama on understanding: understanding doesn't mean agreeing (part 2)

krista mentioned in her interview with pádraig ó tuama that it felt like america was moving towards sectarianism. while, i agree with that, i wish it weren’t true.

at one point during the interview (actually during many points), pádraig mentioned the importance of understanding, somewhat in the context of how to prevent sectarianism from taking a stronger hold.

i think it first came up when he was discussing how being closeted helped him understand homophobes. he said that although he wouldn’t recommend it, in hindsight he gained a lot of wisdom from being closeted around people who didn’t think any gay was around. he got to hear, unfiltered, the beliefs and worldviews of people who thought being gay was wrong.

was it painful? i can only imagine so. was his silence condoning their behaviors and beliefs? i’m not sure. but having that “inside” knowledge today helps him understand those people and their beliefs. that’s my experience, too.

and to understand someone’s point of view doesn’t at all mean that you agree with it. it just means that you can understand where that pov comes from. my most common experience of this going wrong is in racial contexts. it often looks to me like (a) people of color not understanding how whiteness insulates and protects white people and (b) white people not understanding how poc can have constant experiences of race and racialization.

but on both sides of that issue (and most others as well), not understanding the other side generally prevents us from moving forward.

anyway, part 3 of this little run about understand inspired by pádraig ó tuama coming up tomorrow!

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