Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I Disagree

As a card-carrying member of the academic sector, my mind and thought patterns have been honed to follow a certain logical, truth-seeking methodology. I try to approach discussion and debate armed more with facts than emotion. However, this is certainly not how the world at large operates, where I have seen vast communities focus instead on crazy half-truths, arbitrary cultural rituals, and random acts of ignorance and stupidity than on the common good. I can rattle off a number of obvious examples, such as the Jews and Palestinians, the Democrats and Republicans, the North and South Koreans. It's like at the end of our president's state-of-the-union address, they always have these high-falutin' politicians from each party give their take on what we just heard. The first will say that the speech was an unqualified success, that the president could not have been more right, that he is, in fact, a god. The second will say, in terms just as strong and passionate, that the speech was a total flop that showed just how wrong and misguided this president is, and that it goes to show that he is, in fact, the devil incarnate. One side says it's black and the other side says it's white. Clearly there is no way both sides can be correct. The arguments are not logical, not sensible. Still these points of view continue on and nobody steps outside of the scene and evaluates what the truth actually is. The point is that people see what they want to see, they see things from their own highly biased point of view.

The story is not any different between individuals involved in a dispute. There is very little common ground and typically none is sought after. One person claims the other is selfish and hurtful and wrong. The other person claims exactly the same thing. Both cannot be right, but both can be, and most likely are, wrong. In a dispute where passions run very high and inner peace is hard to find, we must step back, step outside of the situation and seek the truth. While I certainly do not have all the answers, and at times, I have none, I can offer one piece of useful advice. It is better to end the "discussion" before your uncontrolled emotions take over and hurtful and hateful words are uttered. They only serve to inflame an already difficult situation and never help bring peaceful resolution. Find some space to gather your thoughts, to check your emotions, and to consider both sides of the argument before re-engaging.