Do Your Homework

It is very, very easy to post an opinion online. It is incredibly easy to draw a hard line in the sand and fight tooth and nail for what you believe. Those things are easy. 

I would like to propose something more difficult. 

Instead of just picking and defending a side, do your homework. 
Read all about the social issue that you're thinking about.
Read posts from both sides.
Read testimonials. 

Now, it would be easy to assume I'm saying we should all do this because it will advance my side. After all, it's hard to argue against something if you aren't familiar with the ins-and-outs of the argument, right? Yes.

That's not my point. 

I would encourage everyone to do their homework so that we can understand where the other side is coming from and show real compassion. Remember, most people believe that they believe the right thing. That is not always true: there is a real right and a real wrong out there, and it is our duty as human beings to find out where those lines are. I repeat: most people believe that they are fighting for the right side. There are truly evil people out there, who live to destroy others, but I don't have any on my Facebook news feed (at least, not that I have noticed). If we really understand the nuances of other people's beliefs, we will be able to connect with them on a human level. 

Another reason we should do our homework is that a social issue is never just a debate. 
Let me repeat that: a social issue is never just a debate. 
Real people with real lives as thoroughly real as mine are affected by decisions, by opinions, by prejudices, by religious standards, by everything. When people pick a side on a social issue, they are (usually) trying to defend humanity or advance it. If we attack arguments as though there is no implications for human beings, we attack human beings. That's not okay. We have to climb into the other side's skin and walk around in it, and maybe we'll see how they do. That doesn't mean that we were wrong all along, but we will stop making weighty statements with no regard for the people who they apply to. 

Bravely look into what is being said and why people are saying it, not only to defend your side, but to defend it with the heart and soul it deserves: a heart full of compassion and love for other human beings. We are all charged with finding real truth out there. That's a part of our job. However, we don't have to slander others in that pursuit. 

One more thing: if looking into what other people believe with a heart to understand scares you, that tells me that you doubt your beliefs. If you doubt your beliefs... maybe, perhaps, you should not be posting them online. Just a thought.