Shades of Gray and Color. People should look beyond their points of view and hear others out.

“I would never be friends with someone who supports Donald Trump” were words I found coming out of my mouth during yet another political discussion with my friends one afternoon. My friends, a majority of whom share my political beliefs, nodded their heads vigorously and then proceeded to add even more similar opinions until we were drowning in both frustration against others and superior feelings of ourselves for having the “better” belief system.

For the majority of the past year, I couldn’t comprehend certain viewpoints. Surrounded by friends and news sources with similar political views, I couldn’t understand how anyone could be quite so dumb to disagree with me. Had they not seen all the statistics, videos, headlines, news articles and facts I’d seen? Had they just been so ignorant as to ignore them? Had they not reasoned through any of their opinions? That simply had to be it. There could not have possibly been any other answer.

I had a perception of myself and my friends as greater than, condemning such ignorant and outrageous ideas. Little did I know, I was the ignorant one.

As I rarely ventured out of my sphere of beliefs, I’d never fully seen any of the points other people would try to make or heard the reasoning for differing opinions. I’d done my research, but it may perhaps only present one side of the story. I assumed the “other side’’ had conveniently looked past these crucial details I’d seen, even though there were often different opinions I may have also conveniently looked past. The assumption of a “knowledgable” side and an “oblivious” side left me in the dark of these “oh-so-ignorant people”. I was seeing the world in black and white and the occasional gray.

All of this isn’t to say I didn’t try to understand other people, because I did. I never particularly enjoyed this view of the world; however, it was one I was encompassed by and had begun to adopt as my own without even realizing it. Herein lies the danger of only fully hearing out one side.

I began to actually do research on what others had to say, and doing this opened me up to new opinions and a new dialogue I simply wasn’t exposed to before. This vague “other side” was not oblivious or unknowledgable, but rather had different priorities and contrasting points of view on how to approach different situations. Not only this, but I came to find there was no “other side” whatsoever. Every single person I encountered had their own personal outlooks and frames of reference that shaped the way they saw the world.

The world was gray…and blue and yellow and red and white and black and brown and every color in between. The world did not have two sides, but seven billion, with a different one for every single person.

Expanding my vision on some topics, I changed a few of the beliefs on which I was previously set in stone. I learned to defend the beliefs I do possess. I found why different people have different ideas, and this gave me a deeper understanding of the world around me. Seeing this made me more open about changing my ideas and working with those who don’t agree.

However, many times, people, like myself, surround themselves with sources that confirm what they believe and never take in the rest of the color wheel of ideas. For this reason, we now live in an environment that is more focused on shutting each other down rather than building each other up and compromising to reach the best solution for the most people.

Oftentimes, when people see a source that disagrees with them, they will condemn and disregard it before seeing its merits. This leads to the angry and partisan world we have today, but we, as global citizens, can change that. Each and every one of us can work together to create the best world possible.

So, no matter what stance you personally may take, listen to other people, particularly the ones who have opposing views than yourself. Participate in healthy conversation and debate, and be open to changing what you believe in. You may be surprised to hear what others have to say, and you may be surprised to see you may even agree with them.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Raiha Zainab at [email protected]