Audi Alteram Partem
While the title of this piece is a famous Legal phrase translating to ‘Listen to the other side’, this piece isn’t related to Law in any way at all, this piece is more about humans and the urgent need to hear the other side.
(Audi alteram partem (or audiatur et altera pars) is a Latin phrase meaning “listen to the other side”, or “let the other side be heard as well”. It is the principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing in which each party is given the opportunity to respond to the evidence against them)
We unfortunately live in a very polarized world, a world where the political has become the personal, a world where people seldom have the patience to listen to opinions which aren’t similar to theirs, it’s obviously very convenient for us to shush opinions which we don’t like, stay away from people who we know aren’t going to have similar positions like we do, unfriend people who don’t hold the same views and so on but we don’t realize the danger of this.
When we refuse to listen to other opinions, we create delicate bubbles for ourselves, while bubbles may be pretty to watch, carelessly floating in the air, they burst after a point. When we start to go across the aisle and reach out to people who we are certain don’t have the same opinions as us, we begin to learn , we grow as human beings and we eventually come to the conclusion that no ideology, opinion, view or argument is larger than humanity.
It’s normal human nature to stay away from people who oppose our views, I too turn off the volume when politicians I don’t like come on television, I’ve had several heated arguments with people with whom I didn’t agree with, I have unfriended these people and I was certain that my truth was the only truth. While my truth may be the best truth, I needed to realize that my truth is the best truth for me, other people may think otherwise- this is perfectly normal. Unless I start having conversations with people who may not like my truth, I will never understand how the world works, I will never understand human relationships and I certainly never understand humanity. The more I become deaf to other views, the more I isolate myself from society, the more I become radical in my opinion and if history is a lesson, radical views have never worked.
When I look back and read history, I can point out several instances where disastrous things have occurred simply because people have refused to hear the other side, a good example would be Napoleon, he was quite confident that he could annex Russia , he brushed aside all dissent and refused to listen to anyone who was against his view and went on to invade Russia- unfortunately he picked the wrong month to invade Russia and the famous harsh Russian winter crushed his army. Hitler too would go on to do the same several years later and fail. Other examples would include Mussolini, Idi Amin and hitting closer to home- Mohammed Bin Tuglaq, the great Delhi Sultan who is now synonymous with failure, indecisiveness and stupidity. All these people failed or are viewed in a bad light because they refused to follow the famous Latin Maxim- Audi Alteram Partem, they constantly told themselves that their stories, views and opinions were the only ones that existed, they didn’t allow any room for dissent and this in turn blinded them from viewing the correct point of view.
We need to remember that the other side may say uncomfortable things, they will irritate you, anger you and make you feel like punching a wall but remember it’s always better to hear them out than to assume what they may say, don’t allow assumptions to become the basis of your argument, you will lose. Let me make it clear that by hearing the other side out, it does not mean you are compromising on your principles. Your ideology or your position won’t blur simply because you heard the other person’s view, it only means that you are a human being who’s tolerant to other views.
So I ask all of you to hear other people out, hear out people who don’t have the same ideology as you, hear out people who don’t talk like you, hear out people who sound silly, who sound smart, who wear clothes you would never buy, hear out marginalised groups, hear out your fiercest critic, your best friend, your neighbour and anyone else who speaks to you because only then will you start understanding humans, you will appreciate the beauty of democracy, you’ll grow as a human being and above all, you’ll shake the world in your own way. In the midst of division, hatred and polarization, may we all build bridges of understanding, inclusion and reason. Audi Alteram Partem. Always.