So I was recently in a conversation with a person on Twitter where we were discussing dehumanizing language and actions towards those opinions we may disdain and I found this person’s solution to the problem curious. The idea seems to be to enter the dialogue with no specific opinion about anything. In fact, it was better to enter the conversation with the attitude of maybe, as in that, on whatever the topic is, maybe the other person is right. That’s okay, but it lead me to think about someone that had no strong opinion about anything. Are they worth having a any sort of discourse with at any time?
Another person in the conversation had already mentioned that our problems in society was not talking to one another, but listening. We’ve lost the ability to listen to one another, which is a real skill. Instead of listening to what the other person is actually saying, because we reject the premise outright, what we tend to do is speak louder, trying to drown out the other person simply because we decide that they’re not worth our time and that whatever they have to say must be awful just for the crime of not agreeing with what our personal beliefs are.
Entering into a conversation on any topic and not having an opinion is okay, but someone that claims to not have an opinion on anything is really not worth listening to, are they? I mean, having the attitude of maybe, in everything does nothing to move along any conversation. We’re all agnostic on some subjects. I admit I am on some because I haven’t educated myself enough on certain topics to be able to form a definitive opinion. When I am asked about one of those and I respond by saying I have no opinion, that’s the reason and has nothing to do with avoiding a confrontation with another person. In fact, sometimes, I’m willing to listen to the other person in the possibility that I may become more more informed. Other times, I am completely uninterested because either the person stating doesn’t seem to have a clear understanding of what they are talking about, or that I am truly uninterested in the topic and like anyone else, I don’t have to listen to everything anyone has to say.
But when I am interested, it’s incumbent upon me to listen carefully to the speaker and not assume something in what they are saying. In fact, if I think I heard something odd, I should stop and ask for clarification. It’s possible that the other person was just clumsy. I know I have been and I appreciate it when someone asks me to clarify what I just said. Active listening will often prevent any misunderstanding and allow a conversation to be more productive.
Nothing of what I’m saying here means that we cannot directly confront those ideas we may consider to be unhealthy. In fact, we should do that when we are able to but we need to be able to understand what we’re being told before we automatically condemn.