I recently received the following comment:
You tend to really analyze this stuff and give both sides of the story. That's rare in the blogosphere anymore.
I was so pleased that I felt the need to expand on the thought further:
This ability to analyze did not come easily. I have spent years ranting and raving against what I perceived to be a monolithic enemy. Years of always aligning myself with a side and arguing for it passionately have left me exhausted. There is nothing easier than having an opinion. Reading blogs has only elucidated this fact for me more clearly. We bloggers take an issue and find the side that feels right for us and align ourselves with like-minded individuals, but we lose touch with why the issue was important in the first place.
In the past I constantly found myself becoming extremely attached to my opinions. I still do it some extent, but now I am trying to see what arguments look like from the other side. If we do not practice arguing both sides of an argument, our own arguments will become insulated and ineffective. There is nothing easier to sit here and say that I am:
The list is endless...we always end up on a side, if we allow ourselves to.
But only choosing a side does nothing to bring about change. We must expect more from our values, and the only way to do this is to allow ourselves to see other people’s points of view. Anything else is insecurity. The hardest part of being open-minded is that most people do not return the favor, and so we become frustrated and defensive. But we feel that our thoughts have merit and can stand on their own, then we shouldn’t feel the need to defend them.
Something, I have found extremely useful in not becoming entrenched in my own mind is that I am starting to understand that it is not a good idea to split the world into concepts like right or wrong, or good or bad. Creating this type of dichotomous world only forces us to attach ourselves to a side. We must see the world and the issues in it as a whole. If we feel we are always right, then how can we listen to the other side? But if see the world not as a choice between good and bad, we will see that we can reduce conflict and hopefully work toward cooperation. In order to achieve this collaboration, we need understanding. And understanding comes from listening and not choosing a side.
It’s funny. I sound quite confident here, but these ideas are very fresh to me too. In fact, I am shaping them as I type now. I guess I am tired of arguing the same points repeatedly. I mean how many times can I debate the Israeli Palestinian conflict? As soon as we feel we are right, the other side becomes wrong. And suddenly every Israeli becomes the enemy. When in fact that should never be the case. It is this type of thinking that brings more conflict. If I were to pick a side, I would pick the Palestinian, but is alignment helping to bring peace to the very people I wish peace for? One has to look and see why the Israelis act the way they do. Just as the Israeli must ask themselves, why is it that men are blowing themselves up on our busses? To truly understand, we must ask question. We may not find answers, but the very act of questioning brings more understanding.
So now what? I am not sure. I guess we simply debate, argue, question, and try to be open-minded. I think on the left we see ourselves as more open-minded, but sometimes it would behoove us to sit back and see exactly how much we are listening. This is not easy, and I am not saying that we should give in and stop the fight against injustice. I am simply saying that I don’t believe the world is in the state it is in because some people are good while others are bad, or that we are right and they are wrong. The world is in the state it is in because we do not listen. We do not understand. I for one am finally starting to understand this very simple lesson. So thank you for noticing my newly found open-mindedness. I hope it lasts. I hope it is contagious.