This is a key problem standing in the way of peace between people and nations, this idea that “My way is infallible and absolutely Just and there is NO room for the evaluation of my ideology. To evaluate is to devalue and disrespect the (obvious rightness of it.) The other dangerous mindset is when one party believes the other “will NEVER understand their position.” This is dangerous because the next step tends to be a breakdown in communication followed by violence. The time for talking ceases and both parties are on the defensive and fears rise and ultimate the solution emerges to find a way eradicate the “other.” I see this scenario played out over and over both daily and throughout history.
Whether it is an opposing neighbor situation where they are trying to get the other thrown out of the neighborhood, co-workers trying to get each other fired, kids (and/or teachers) trying to get each other thrown out of school. The intolerance of people with differing views to be open to seeing and learning from the other about *why* they feel the way they do, as opposed to simply dismissing their very real feelings as “less important,” shallow, or plain evil therefore, not worthy of consideration.
If this was how others viewed your fears and pain–would you listen to them? Or would you also decide that you didn’t care about their pain either? Where does that leave us in the path to peace and collaboration? On the side of the road, that’s where.
We have been waiting on that side on the road for what feels like forever. I know people want the world to be different, but often don’t make the connection that for this to happen each of us need to change ourselves from within. Usually there’s a chorus reply of “Why do *I* have to change, they’re the ones who …(insert grievance here).” We all have to change and then remain dedicated enough to try to maintain those changes. It’s like going to the gym. You don’t go once a year for long term change. You should go every week.
Check out this article which goes more into the philosophy of this “With Us or Against” phenomenon. Don’t let people trick you into thinking that there are only these 2 choices. There are more choices, but they require work and real consideration that no one else can do for you.
I get that it is easier to let someone else with a louder voice make all the decisions, but when you allow them to drive your lives and they crash the car, who is to blame? You still have to deal with the harm caused to you and potentially others harmed by the actions of this person. Yet, you will still have to face the fact that you sat in the car and said “nothing” when you wanted to ask questions like “Are we going too fast?” “Is this what I really want?” “Where are you taking me?”
Participate in your pathway to your life–or else you’ll be dragged along by crowd, possibly to last place you ever wanted to go. And you can blame the driver–but you got into the car and that blame won’t matter at all, because your the one has to live it’s consequences.
“There’s a single basis of moral and political life, and this supreme basis determines the right way to proceed. I have access to this supreme basis. When others don’t agree with me, it’s because they have the wrong faith commitments or they aren’t analyzing things properly. Agreement with me is a prerequisite to solving our problems. Consequently, I have nothing to learn about these matters from those who disagree with me. Their participation is at best an irrelevant distraction and at worst an evil to be defeated. My diagnosis of the issue has precisely captured all that is morally or politically relevant. It’s exhaustive, hence beyond revision and reformulation.”
After my students and I swap stories about folks who might take such a pledge, we invariably conclude that those people are outnumbered by their counterparts: conservatives, liberals and radicals alike who would reject this outright. Moreover, it quickly becomes clear that this pledge doesn’t speak to the sort of people my students wish to become.
And yet… How many of us habitually decide what’s relevant to an issue without pausing to listen to others? Do we offhandedly dismiss alternative views? However open-minded we may seem to ourselves, do we react to others as though we’re navigating with the one, true moral compass?
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