When a light-hearted humorous analogy offends someone who is outside of the conversation…what do you do? Do you (a) apologize for having a differing opinion than the people who were offended, (b) take their feelings into consideration and compromise your own opinion, or (c) gently remind them that it was a closed conversation and it’s none of their business?
I suppose your response relies on a variety of factors. It could be as simple as your mood at that moment or your own willingness to tolerate someone else’s view. How often do you think that your way is the only way? Is our way ever the only way?? Not likely. Very few people get their way consistently. Disappointment is a part of our daily lives. It’s the successes that we celebrate. The unpredictability and spice in our lives are what we enjoy the most. Well, some of us feel that way. But even that is subjective. The fact is…we behave and react in accordance with our own experiences.
Our experiences are different.
Fortunately, even a clash of ideas could evolve into something better. We evolve. We exchange ideas. The experience that rises from the discussion is a new experience in itself. Scientist and theologians agree that variety, contrast, and contradictions all allow us to grow intellectually. Discoveries of new ideas and the exploration of new theories are abilities that distinguish us from other creatures.
Political correctness accounts for plenty of misunderstanding. We spend so much time and invest so much effort into saying things in a inoffensive way. As a result our expression is restricted. There are consequences for offending someone else. When it doesn’t matter (or when it’s not worth the fight), we candy-coat our language. We don’t want to hurt anyone else. Good manners make for pleasant situations. We sacrifice our own position so that someone else can feel good. The “golden rule” prevails. But what happens when the same courtesy is not extended to us? That “eye-for-an-eye” mentality generates an nasty disposition. In the end there are more selfish people than there are givers. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who defends themselves when pushed too far.
Equal value to each opinion
We want to be treated fairly. Everyone is entitled to their opinion–and everyone’s got one. When my opinion is less valuable (to you) than your opinion is (to me), that inequitity fuels distaste. Resentment and anger aren’t far off. We all just want to be treated fairly.
Right vs wrong
Who is right? Our willingness to express our feelings must be on par with the need to listen to another perspective. We want so much more than we give. Entitlement. Entire communities are built on the premise that we deserve more. But the slums are where they live.
Division is a very common form of battle. Once we separate ourselves from others, we establish “us-verses-them” scenarios. Communication breaks down as we become secretive and exclusive. We are insistent on creating division. How do we remedy this? Have a conversation. Lighten up enough to consider someone else’s perspective. Or not! This requires tolerance.
Do we tolerate, do we change, or do we move?
Sometimes the frustration is a result of either not being able to control a situation or the lack of information. You want to be mad, but you didn’t get all of the information yet. I try not to be mad. But I have my triggers. Tolerating someone else’s ideas and actions is important. But to tolerate without understanding is no better than simply ignoring a situation. At some point we must be moved enough to DO something about it. Doing something brings about change. Positive change, negative change…either is better than no change. Change resembles movement, and movement is better than allowing a situation to fester. I’m not sure how much I will tolerate before I have to change the way I handle a problem. Even a low threshold for pain won’t be tolerated long. At some point, waiting on change will result in simply moving away. Let’s change something that’s stale. Let’s create something new. No one should have to move, but failure to act is akin to conceding defeat.
I am glad for the opportunities to grow. I recognize that most growth comes from mistakes. I’m more tolerant than most. However, my expectations are such that someone approaching me had better be prepared to listen too. When they’ve had enough, we change our approach. If I don’t make mistakes, there will be no growth.
I suppose that when I master the art of representing your views AND my perspective simultaneously, I will have become the ideal politician. But until then I will strive to be the best leader I can be. I certainly hope the next guy uses as good a manner as he expects from me.