“I love discourse. I’m dying to have my mind changed. I’m probably the only liberal who read Treason, by Ann Coulter. I want to know, you understand? I like listening to everybody. This to me is the elixir of life.”
How much do you enjoy a disagreement? I’ll admit, it’s not my first choice for the way to spend an afternoon. An argument can raise blood pressure and cause the loss of lifelong friends. Not very funny.
Have you ever wondered why some people always seem to end up arguing? I really believe the number one reason is fear.
The fearful person is the one who attempts to shout you down instead of letting you get a word out, even after you were courteous enough to listen to their views. This person is so afraid of contamination from another idea, that even allowing it to be expressed will taint them with an element of doubt that could alter their life forever. Scary!
This is no more true than when discussing religious or political issues. The beliefs of religion and politics are ingrained in us from birth many times, and we are fearful to hear opposition because it could change the fundamental structure of life we have come to know. Our foundations have been resting on this information for all our lives, and any change could make the whole structure unstable, leaving us adrift with no anchor in the sea of ideas.
Allow me to look at this from another angle. If all we do is accept the ideas our parents have given us to believe, are they really our own ideas at all? I am not advocating discarding everything Mom and Dad ever said, but the only way to ever know what YOU really believe is to have your preconceived notions tested in the crucible of opposition.
Now you don’t have to go and debate it all the time with every person you know who was given a different set of values. Here are the basic steps to solidify your own beliefs:
1.Get over your fear of listening to ALL ideas. Everyone has an honest reason for what you consider heresy. Overcome your fear of contamination. Just close your mouth and listen.
2.Honestly evaluate other points of view. If you are totally convinced of the rightness your position, there should be no problem evaluating the enemy’s idea without that sense of panic you are accustomed to.
3. If you find your ideas can’t stand up, do what scientists do: gather more data for both your position and the other view to test them further.
4. If you come to the inescapable conclusion that some alteration of your original dogma needs to be effected, DO IT and move on!
None of us are perfect. We all need adjustment. If you can do this self evaluation within your own mind without huge arguments, my hat is off to you. Just be honest with yourself.
One final thought from Senator Edward Kennedy:
“The Constitution does not just protect those whose views we share; it also protects those with whose views we disagree.”
The Unofficial Jack Nicholson Website