The longer I live on this earth it becomes apparent to me that humans are incredibly myopic as a species. We only see what’s directly in front of us — our own lived experience and very few people will take the time or energy to zoom their lens out to the panoramic setting.
I keep that in mind whenever I’m tempted to debate with anyone these days. I’ve become a better listener because of this attitude. I go into conversations deeply interested in trying to figure out what the other person is ‘seeing’. And then try to go from there. If their view has any part of my ‘photo’ in it, I might be able to work with it. I like to think I can pan out pretty wide these days.
But sometimes — I know I can’t get there. And I’ve learned to let it go.
This exercise has led to much more peace in my life — I can’t even tell you.
We all know there are arguments we just are not going to win — hell — you aren’t even going to make a ripple in the other person’s view of the issue. You KNOW it going in. So why do we do it? Like Don Quixote charging at windmills we plunge forward with our lances drawn.
What — if instead of seeking to change someone’s view — we try to actually see the world the way they see it? We would gain two things.
The first thing is whether or not we have enough in common to have a reasonable discussion on a subject without it turning into one of those useless time consuming debates.The type where it’s more of a pissing contest than an actual exchange of intelligent commentary. I’m old — I don’t have the minutes left in my life to waste on that shit.
No more minutes for that shit. It’s a rule. I’m saving those minutes to color with my grand children. Priorities.
The second thing you gain is perhaps a new perspective on an issue which you didn’t have before. You get to see a thing in a way that might be new and refreshing. You gain an understanding you can take forward which opens your myopic world view ever so slightly. Pretty cool, huh?
All of this while they are talking to you. Listen to someone to hear them, try not to already be forming your retort as they are talking. LISTEN to them for a change. It’s a huge time saver because if their myopic view is so far away from your values, you can try to change the subject, or failing that suddenly remember you have to pick up your kids at soccer practice/GYN/their colonoscopy — depending on the age of your kids. Mine are adults so I have get creative. But the point is to completely avoid wasting minutes of your life entrenched in a debate that just pisses both parties off.
People get to have their own opinions about everything. No one has to share mine. Or yours. Or anyone else’s. Thank God. We can all have different opinions and still act like grown ups and be a civilized and peaceful people.