I read a lot. I read fiction and non-fiction. I read the news, I read science journals and articles, I read cookbooks and I read fluff magazines. Most often, my favorite things to read are works that do one of two things: teach me something I didn’t already know that is useful to me and my life, or the people in my life or make me feel good. I don’t like to read things that are upsetting as a general rule. It genuinely bothers me that there are still people out there that don’t agree with me. After all, I’m completely right all the time and it makes total sense that everyone should see things my way. (For those of you who cannont manage to assume sarcasm on this blog, which I might add bewilders me, here’s a hint: That last statement was facetious.)
It has occured to me that the reason for selecting to read the things I read is simply a matter of perspective. Generally speaking, I do not have a hard life, nor have I ever had a hard life. Some awful things have happened to me, but they were largely short-lived and solvable. I like to read things that reiterate this fact. I do not like things to be hard. By that same token, I don’t like to read political pieces, as a general rule, that disagree with me. I like knowing that there are other people that feel the way I do and have taken the time to articulate their (read: my) points of view.
Because of enjoying the sensation of feeling good about myself and my views, I tend to shy away from opposing viewpoints. So much of this is because when people have an opposing point of view, and this is from both sides, their general argument is to make some statement about how “So and so doesn’t know what they are talking about because they are young, poor, rich, spoiled, etc .” (There are other adjectives you could use. Please fill them in if you wish.) This is not conducive to the exchange of ideas and the intellectual growth of individuals.
So what to do? So often I simply shy away from discussions with people who see things differently than I do because I’ve been burned so many times. It’s possible, and perhaps even probable that you will not call me names or fail to listen to my point of view. It’s even possible that instead of asking me questions and failing to give me the chance to answer them, that you will listen and even if you don’t agree, engage in intelligent, logical discourse with me. It’s not something that I have seen happen particularly often though, so it’s hard to find the energy to attempt the conversations.
However, I like understanding people. I like knowing why they feel the way they feel about things and I like knowing the reasons they have for believing as they do. I don’t think it’s wise to only surround yourself and read things written by those who you already know agree with you. However, I also don’t think it prudent to engage in heated arguments, name calling and false discourse with people who, and I have been guilty of this too, are simply throwing insults, engaging in name calling and flinging stereotypes like they were found in 3/$1 bin at the Dollar Tree. How do we resolve this? Ideally, we learn that we are to be people first, people who are kind to others, who realize that we simply cannot exist without others on this planet and politicians second. In my case, I am to be a Christian first and all other things after that. In the case of many people who read my blog, you are to be Christians first and all other things second. Short of that, do we elect to never engage in arguments with people? Do we set ground rules and then end the conversation if those rules aren’t followed? Do we simply surround ourselves with like-minded people and ideas? Do we engage in arguments and forcefully try to impress our ideas on other people? Do we publish blog posts that are vitriolic and poorly supported? I’m asking because I want some answers. I love learning things. In the rare instances that I have had conversations about politcs and religion with people who were kind when we discussed them, I have learned things. I have even changed my beliefs on some things. But I’m just as guilty of being the name caller and the over-talker as anyone else. So, how do we resolve things?