July 19, 2017 – Diversity of Thought

This post was supposed to upload last night, but apparently I have a mobile setting wrong somewhere, so I am manually doing it this morning.  I also have a post for this evening that should be up later, so stay tuned.  🙂

I was in an interesting situation today.  A co-worker I respect and I got into a discussion over politics and the media.  He and I agree on many things across the spectrum, but we both discovered that we disagree on the whole “Russia” situation that, in my opinion, has been misreported and generated the exact type of result the Russians were looking for.  My position was that first, the US is not innocent in trying to influence elections or policy in other nations (see Brexit and the recent French elections), but second, that the Russian goal in the actions they took was not to get a specific candidate elected, but, rather to cause disruption and discord regardless of who was elected.  To that end, the fixation on trying to find a criminal activity where it is quite possible none exists, only serves to further the Russian goals and further weakens our nation politically.  To the extent the media and certain political figures have been continuing to stir the pot, they are responsible for supporting the goals of this Russian strategy as useful patsies.  My co-worker’s opinion was that there likely was unethical behavior, if not illegal, and it is the job of the media and others to uncover that so that we can fix those problems through either the legal or electoral process.  As a result, he sees the media as being fixated, but doing the job they should be doing.  We both agree that there is a lot of other news not being reported, though, as a result of this whole issue.

While the discussion was fun and definitely one to continue at some point, what I realized was that this diversity of thought and the ability to discuss our opinions without anger or ad hominem attacks was very refreshing.  We both came away from the discussion appreciative of each other’s stance, even if we didn’t fully agree with it.  We also found common ground that shifted both of our thinking slightly towards each other.  Granted, we still both believe our fundamental premise, but we now better acknowledge the complexities of the opposing positions and have a little more grace and understanding with each other.  I know I have written about it before, but I miss being able to have discussions with people where we can disagree agreeably.  I miss the opportunity to learn more about an opposing view, even if I disagree with it.  Frankly, I miss the way it forces me to think through and understand why I have a specific opinion on something, and, in those cases where I may be wrong, to find and discover the truth.

It is not a weakness to discover that you were wrong and to reorient yourself based on new knowledge and understanding, however it IS a weakness to avoid opposing viewpoints for fear you might find out you were wrong.  This cultural view that being wrong about something is bad and that it makes you a bad person is a fallacy that needs to change.  People can be wrong without being bad or evil.  We have to separate a person’s opinions from their value as a human being.  Granted, their opinions tell us a little about them, but it shouldn’t change the fact that they are a fellow member of the human race, with whom we probably share a lot in common.  We can’t change this universally, but yesterday’s conversation rekindled a desire in me to try to change it one person at a time with those I encounter.  It means listening more and talking less, assuming the best of the person and having the patience and intellectual honesty to try to understand where they are coming from.  It may not be easy, but it’ll sure be worthwhile.



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