I am very blessed. I have lived a long and healthy life. Not as extensive as some at this time, but pretty good compared to many who have passed before me. As I have grown and changed over time, so have my views on specific topics. Being a seeker of the truth, I began expanding my knowledge base beyond formal education many years ago. As I have and continue to read a variety of viewpoints, I am now aware that history lessons may have excluded some truths.
Being Open To Different Views
I navigate many worlds personally, as well as professionally. Coming from a family of origin considered to be atypical, my ability to tolerate a range of views is relatively expansive. Being a therapist has allowed me to work with people from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, political and religious orientations, and alternative lifestyles. Many have very different lives from me and may view the world in a way that I do not. Some in my inner circle also take an opposing perspective from me on the vision of the world around us. I have never taken issue with this except when my outlook on it is minimized or harshly criticized.
To be more explicit, I have witnessed that challenging someone about a position to which they adhere may produce a “shut down” or “shut up” if an opponent questions their stance. Consequently, disputes and debates are prohibited. Now, this is where my ire gets raised.
Disagreeing Does Not Mean One Is Less Than
Very recently, an article was published in which the author, a knowledgeable human being, discussed the issue around how we absorb information when it is positive or negative. Somehow the example used was related to a very polarizing topic. It is not necessary to get into the specifics because that is not the issue. Some might say that the author is courageous for taking this on. I would concur except that their position is one supported as prevailing wisdom to which few would openly disagree. As someone who celebrates freedom of thought and expression, I believe the author has every right to verbalize theirs. Two salient points, however, that were mentioned by the author exemplify my concerns about dogma:
- The Use of Money To Influence: Yes, people, especially the powers-to-be, are courted by the Ka-Ching. Fair enough, and that is not a surprise. What the author did not acknowledge and may not be aware of, however, is that similar coercion resides with the cause dear to the author. I heard this from an expert in the field who does not agree with this position.
- The Implication of Ignorance: The issue to which I find most disturbing is that somehow those who do not see the prevailing wisdom as doctrine are considered to be close-minded or ignoramuses. That was not stated but implied. The author does not even pose the question that perhaps they hear about opposing research by luminaries from very esteemed institutions who consider these views at the very least exaggerated and at the most fear-mongering.
I am not a pollyanna by any means, and I am not saying I am married to any absolutes other than having the belief in a superior being. What I also fervently believe is the necessity to examine more than one side to develop a well-formed opinion. I think it is essential to be flexible and consider that maybe we are wrong in our beliefs. That is what began happening to me long ago.
I have lived enough years to see that harrowing events predicted to occur by a particular decade never come to fruition. People seem to forget about these alarming forecasts as often is the case in our overloaded, fast-paced society. Besides and, most significantly, in my opinion, so-called sagacious fortune-tellers whom I would say are doomsayers manage to defend false prophecies by changing the time or language to preserve the message.
Respecting Different Opinions
Returning to the author, again, they have every right to support their position and believe in the research to which they follow. With that said, if one does not agree, it does not make them less intelligent or less informed, and I think all of us must be prudent as we move into even more contentious and polarizing times. The author commented on the increasing divisiveness in reply to a comment, but by imputing dissenters makes everyone culpable in this frantic, tribalistic era.
As an independent thinker and seeker of the truth, what I would love to see is the return of the hearty debate, which appears to be increasingly and disturbingly a relic of days gone past.
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts? Do you believe we have become so cemented in our belief system that it is impossible to have a reasonable discussion? Do you think it is possible to return to some civility? Inquiring minds want to know.