I’ve written and rewritten this post more than once. This is tough to write. On one hand, I’m writing about the need for humility in discussion in public forums. I’m writing about the need to acknowledge fault and imperfection in beliefs and thoughts. On the other hand, it takes a bit of ego to tell anyone else what to do.
The irony of this isn’t lost on me. I’ve consulted numerous friends on this. I appreciate everyone’s input more than I can write.
Having said this, I do feel compelled to say something publicly, in hopes that it provides some small nudge in the discourse people have with each other. I’m writing this, sincerely hoping that any of you will take a minute to consider how you speak to each other.
Am I Choosing Teams?
I’ve observed a lot of interactions online in the last 15 years. What I see more and more is a tendency for folks to line up in camps, defending the platform of a team, more than defending what seemingly makes sense.
In 2020, almost all things have become political. I don’t know why this is the case. However, it’s pretty clear that it definitely has become the case. I think this is a problem.
I don’t fit in any major political party. This benefits me pretty well. I don’t have much to gain or lose by defending or attacking any political party per se.
Because of this, I feel like I can watch these conversations from the sidelines and be more objective about what I see. I don’t have emotional attachment to hot button items in current politics.
Watching the two major parties fight it out though is interesting. There are positions each “side” take. These seem to contradict other positions they have. Given the nature of current social discourse, it’s actually unwise for me to mention them here. Again, the emotional attachment folks have to a position has become very strong.
Plus, maybe I am wrong?
Could I Be Wrong
It’s been my experience that in any circumstance, I may be wrong. Admitting as much is the first step in becoming more right. In no position, in my entire life, have I ever been 100% right.
If you find yourself in a position you are blindly sure of, it behooves you to rethink things. Tragically, the current COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting this phenomenon. Skeptics and “promoters” alike have each been able to point to evidence of their “correctness”. In each of these circumstances, a little humility in displaying their point might have given a window of opportunity for opponents to better see their case.
Sadly, I haven’t seen much evidence of people coming together to find a common solution to a potential problem that won’t distinguish between liberal and conservative.
Humility is the Solution
Knowing I might be wrong about any position I might have, helps me to talk to others in a way that respects them. Being honest when I’m wrong helps others trust what I have to say without being defensive (unnecessarily).
Never, in my entire life, have I ever been treated rudely by anyone and immediately thought “Oh dang, they’re right!”. Communicating with a human being requires an ability to listen before speaking. Empathy is a prerequisite to change.
Hemingway makes a point that should give us pause, even today. Can you think of a time when you had a conversation with someone who wouldn’t stop talking? Can you think of a conversation you had with someone where you cannot recall anything they had to say?
I can recall being in both situations. In the first situation, I recall feeling like I didn’t want to talk to that person anymore. In the second situation, I felt really good about the conversation, at the time. Looking back, I have regret.
Recall, in any position, you may be wrong. If you’re unwilling to listen, the truth will escape you. Cynicism and vitriol are not characteristics to aspire to.
To be fair, I’ve been guilty of this as well. On plenty of occasions, I have said things I wish I hadn’t. Humility isn’t natural for me. It’s been a learning process. I hope everyone gets on the learning train.
If you’ve read this far, please, I implore you: Reconsider your approach to further your beliefs. Take a minute to consider the position of another. Nobody is infallible. Communicate to listen, as well as to be heard.