“The more something upsets you, the more it is meant for you. When it no longer upsets you, it is no longer needed because the lesson is complete.” Bryant McGill
Have you ever stopped to ruminate on why another person’s idea, just an idea causes another to become upset? In particular, when this notion is prima facie an anathema to what we recognize as a core value, how does that make you feel? A liberal may scoff and dismiss as extremist a conservative’s viewpoint on national security. A conservative may ridicule as naïve a liberal’s position on gun control. Don’t fancy what you are hearing on religion – well, the late Howard Cosell said it best. “Don’t get me started.”
Do you hold so strongly to a position that debate, even within your own mind is not tolerable? Are you so rigid that when catching-wind of this opposing view you shut down, refuse to consider another viewpoint and then cast dispersions on not only the contrary perspective but on the deliverer of that rationale too?
Over the past few months since I began to write in this space, some of my propositions have lets say aggravated certain people causing a few of them to request or demand be removed from my email list – to which I immediately complied. There have been a few with visceral reactions akin to me committing some sort of theological or intraracial crime. Those who oppose my positions – that I am aware of – fall principally into three camps:
- A fully self and intellectually aware individual who after reading my piece has an honest difference of opinion
- A person who doesn’t read the blog in it’s entirety or only sees the title and make up their “mind” negatively about the unread content – and tells others
- A potentially doctrinaire individual who reads the piece but does not see the words before them
Clearly it would be superfluous of me to detail my opinions of the three examples any further. I know that beyond cordial disagreement I have touched a sensitive nerve or two for some of you – not my intention at all. My intention is merely to write what I feel yet aware of the possibility of crossing one of your lines in the sand. But that is okay as it my truth that I pen. But what is it that makes you uncomfortable? My ideas? Or are they your thoughts and opinions – the ones you cling to unwaveringly yet not fully comprehending why?
I challenge us all to be honest about our undesirable reactions to other mind-sets where we don’t find concurrence. Why do we sometimes disagree with opposing viewpoints so fiercely and categorically? Are we afraid of exposing an incongruity in ourselves? Are we fearful of potential self-change from these steadfast positions? Do we find comfort and safety in our rigidity despite the consequences? Do we feel trapped in some way? Trapped to the past, to a ritual of the way things have always been? “How can he write that – he used to think as I did … what has happened to him?” I believe and have come to understand through my past experiences that our own negativity or animosity to almost anything has much more to do with what is going on inside us than outside us – with others.
I will close with the instructive words of American writer John Gardner.
“Self-renewing individuals are versatile and adaptive. They avoid being trapped in the procedures and routines of the moment or being wholly imprisoned by fixed habits and attitudes.”
Here is to many more lessons … for all of us.
You are so right, Stuart. The people who asked to not read your opinions are the ones who are closed-minded and not open to seeing things in a new light. My feeling is that I’d rather read things that I disagree with than reading things that I already hold to be true. I have enough confidence in my own belief system to read things from another perspective, ruminate upon them and then perhaps challenge my preconceived ideas. Keep writing!
You are a wonderful light that keeps shining brightly in my world. I am touched and filled with gratitude. Stuart
Like the Rabbi, I find other people’s views interesting, whether I agree with them or not. As long as they’re not hateful. In fact, the first thing I read in the paper every morning (after the obits … is my age showing LOL?) are the Letters to the Editor. I have only “de-friended” one person – a former colleague – from my Facebook page because his views on Israel were so hateful that I found them offensive. Even when I engaged him in debate, he spewed so much anger that I was compelled to hit “delete.” We usually can’t change people’s opinions, but we can learn to tolerate each other without being boastful or naive. So I say, Stuart, keep writing and accommodate those who want off your distribution list. No harm done!
Thank you for this Suzanne. I suspect that Muslims must similarly feel violated or offended when certain lines are crossed. And we all have those lines in the sand don’t we – they are just different but the same too. I have begun a piece on that … These are difficult times – mostly in our own mind.
I agree Stuart. I’m on a few financial blogs that have a number of comments following each post and it always amazing how acerbic the comments get when their is a difference of opinion. People are so quick to judge and berate people on their thoughts instead of calmly explaining their postion.
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