A view from my side.
Long before the “Chicken Soup for the Blah, Blah, Blah Soul” craze, Hugh Prather wrote Notes to Myself. Published in 1970, it was a collection of personal musing, and observations, much like the blogs so many of us read/write today. Called an “American Khalil Gibran” by the New York Times, Prather’s book sold out its initial printing, mostly by word of mouth and in a very short amount of time. It was later picked up by a national publisher and is still in print today. He was often spoofed in Saturday Night Live’s “Deep Thoughts” segment. He died recently, at home in his hot tub of all places.
I have a copy of the book and have read it many times. Over the years, many of the writings have taken on evolving meanings. Some that were important to me in 1978, have virtually no meaning to me now. Others that I dismissed in my teens, I have found to be significant today. One in particular has stayed pretty constant over the years and I’d like to share it with you:
No one is wrong. At most someone is uninformed. If I think a man is wrong, either I am unaware of something, or he is. So unless I want to play a superiority game, I had best find out what he is looking at.
Whenever I disagree with someone, I try to find out what they know that I do not. Or, what I know that they do not. If possible, I will take the time to talk to them, asking questions, digging for information. I want to know what they know that makes them disagree with me. I want them to know what I know that makes me disagree with them. Disagreements almost always result in a quest for knowledge.
This is not to say that I am in agreement with everyone. By no means am I suggesting that. I disagree with a host of people…passionately so at times. But, I am always willing to listen to a new idea, a new thought, a new reason for their position. I am open to change and I am open to moderation. The results have ranged from modification of some of my points of view and strengthening of others. A few times I have come to believe the other side, but only after I had access to the information I needed. And, I can agree to disagree with someone.
We have become so polarized, it seems to me, lately. So many people only listen to those that are in agreement with them. They never consider that there may be something else; some bit of information, some line of reasoning, some argument that they have neither heard nor given credence to.
Regardless of the “side” of an issue you are on, I am sure you, too, have met this type of person. They do not listen to you. You can see they are simply waiting for an opportunity to speak. Their mind is made up, and they refuse to learn anything new. You know you are talking to this person when one of the first things they say to is, “I’ve heard it all before…”
I think we should all strive to be more informed in our lives. The only reason not to listen is a fear that you might change your mind.