"To know all, is to forgive all" is a line from my favorite poem by Nixon Waterman because I sincerely believe in it's truth. It is the simple statement of fact that if you could get inside the mind of the person with whom you disagree - you would understand exactly why they say what they say, think what they think, and do what you do.
As a matter of fact, you would understand it so well that you would not feel upset, angry, or irritated by them anymore. The flip side of this reality is that when you are upset, angry, or irritated by someone there is a very strong possibility that you do not have all of the information necessary to understand them. If you did, you would easily be able to forgive their point of view.
That leads me to my next favorite quote: Seek first to understand.
If you seek to understand another before you ask them to understand you, three things happen: 1st, you benefit from gaining more insight into their position and, if you let them talk long enough, you will get past the defensive fire and simmer it down to the real emotion and meaning behind their statements....2nd, you gain a great possibility of learning something that you didn't know before because when you stop trying to defend yourself and anticipate your next move (which takes enormous energy), you can actually listen and supplement your own point of view with some potentially fresh ideas and.....3rd, you have a much better of chance of being heard.
No one is heard in a shouting match and as Buffalo Springfield pointed out: "Nobody's right if everybody's wrong."
Has there ever been a time when you were angry with someone for something they did or said and learned additional information later that turned that negative emotion into compassion?
This is what happened when I spent the last week of my life as a Conservative. I watched Fox News, I agreed with criticism of Obama, Unions, and Abortion. I went to church on Sunday and I watched NASCAR (okay, I didn't do the last one). But it wasn't nearly as painful as I thought it would be.
As a matter of fact, I discovered that many of the things I was hearing from conservatives were things I agreed with and believe as well. And when their expressions of opinion were not met with a defense, I saw people with whom I would normally argue, relax. And when they relaxed, they lowered their voice. And shared deeper beliefs and thoughts. And then returned the favor by listening to me.
And, by golly, before I knew it, we were having a conversation. And then it turned into a productive conversation.
And we were both equally surprised.