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How thinking inconveniently can lead to change

There are many perspectives that can make people uncomfortable, many perspectives that are unconventional or not convenient. But, why? Is this something that has been happening for the last 100 years or is it something relatively new pushed forward by new generations? We are standing at a moment in time where many aspects of our daily life are being questioned without us realizing. The way in which countries are being governed, how multinational companies and ourselves as a society start to be more inclusive, even the people’s way of thinking can be refused and discussed due to this surging “change” we are going through. Some social movements make entire cultures change and take families to question their beliefs. Fighting against the status quo has become a lifestyle for some. We can certainly tell that to develop as a society we must face cultural changes and question our way of thinking by listening to others and by accepting inconvenient perspectives which may differ from our own. This can lead to many discussions, but we should still listen to other people’s opinion all the time. To have an inconvenient perspective you must think differently from the rest because this will make your opinion the unconventional one. It can then be said that perspectives are highly attached to cultural and social beliefs, making them acceptable for some and causing discomfort to others.

Just around 50 years ago, on April the 4th 1968 (1), Martin Luther King was assassinated for being the leader of a revolution that took an entire country to change. He fought for equal rights and against white supremacy in a country deeply marked by slavery years before that revolution. On December 1st, 1955 (2), thirteen years before Luther King’s assassination, Rosa Parks stood for her rights by not giving the seat to a white man on a bus, putting herself in jail. Even though discriminating a black person just because of their skin colour would be considered racist nowadays, it wasn’t like this 60 years ago. There are still isolated cases of racism and discrimination around the world and there is still a lot of room for improvement, but it has certainly changed in the last decades, with a movement started by a man with a different perspective, an unconventional one. His perspective led to change the world and its view on racism.

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Not long ago, I was at my dad’s friend house and had a big debate about homosexuality being present in our society with four or five couples there. I was arguing that there is absolutely nothing wrong for someone being gay and if in a hypothetic case one of their sons or daughters would be gay, they should accept it as normal without facing any difficulty. On the other hand, they though that being gay was weird and that for them to accept it, they would have to go to a psychologist and “learn how to live with it”. They were placed in an inconvenient situation by my thoughts, they felt uncomfortable. I don’t think that what I believe is inconvenient in any way, for a gay person to be free and happy and being able to have the same rights as anyone should be no problem at all. But there I realized that what may defy many people’s beliefs might be perfectly normal for others. What I thought was normal was defying their beliefs completely, they said they “had a different education” than mine, and because of this they justified what they believed although they were making an effort to change their belief that homosexuality is “bad” because they knew they were wrong. Their opinions were highly affected by a social construct in which they grew up and in which they have been educated and that is why nowadays perspectives on this subject start to change, because social constructs start to modify themselves through time due to the constant development on the general way of thinking. This is especially empowered by younger generations. Being gay is illegal in many countries like Russia or Brunei (3) and because of this some countries are changing their laws due to the constant change on their cultures. The process of change is slow because of this and it is not only happening with homosexuality and the rights surrounding it, but it is also present in many other aspects of our society.

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With the fast expansion of social media there are many opinions and beliefs that can spread rapidly across the world, generating different social movements that stand up for changing people’s perspective on things. The famous and growing “#MeToo” movement which has led to the breaking of stereotypes and acceptance of equal opportunities for women on the workplace and on their daily lives. This can be seen in some big multinational companies like Unilever that are actively participating to be part of a change. They have “been committed to building a gender-balanced organisation” and by the end of 2018 “49 percent of their managers were woman” (4). All of this being pushed forward by a general sociocultural change with the need to make equal opportunities for men and woman present in every aspect of our lives.

I have been naming only good outcomes from inconvenient perspectives, but they can also lead to disaster if misunderstood and carried forward or they can just be perspectives that cause no change at all. Different perspectives can also be inconvenient in a way that they are so controversial that there might be no right answer at all at this time for that specific argument. If we give examples most of them would be related to cultural changes or politics such as Donald Trump being the president of United Sates, the Brexit as a whole, Catalunya wanting to separate from Spain, being responsible with pollution and waste management or even the pro-abortion law in Argentina. These are all examples of highly controversial topics around the world. As we said before, inconvenient perspectives can lead to change and as we see in these examples many may seem debatable with a lot of valid arguments for both sides of the discussion. But this is the point of having different perspectives. Many can result unacceptable for some people while at the same time they can be celebrated by others.

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To conclude, we could say that having inconvenient perspectives is a part of being humans. We are social animals which are unsusceptible to change. Therefore, it is so hard for us to listen to others and believe their opinions and perspectives. Everyone of us has its own perspective on things. We can agree on some things but changing entire ways of thinking is hard and requires a lot of time and effort. As explained before many good things start by a rising inconvenient perspectives which are then empowered to create change. But as there are good outcomes there can also be bad outcomes if the same happens the other way around. It is hard to change what we perceive as right and wrong. For example, I have two black friends from South Africa which say that they confront racist situations at least once a month, I listen to comments from friends which basically say that being gay is unacceptable and many of them say that women cannot put up with the pressure of being a manager or a CEO. This is hard to change because of the old sociocultural constructs that can only start to get modified with different opinions, the change generated by an idea can be good or bad, but they all start as inconvenient perspectives. Being open an able to listen to inconvenient perspectives is part of getting out of your comfort zone, it would be interesting to see many people doing this, making it an opportunity to debate, discuss, agree and especially an opportunity to learn from others.

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