In some strange way we, as humans, crave being right. Knowing there is someone under us that needs our help, to whom we can impart our knowledge fills us with an enthusiasm that rivals little else. I have read numerous blogs of those belonging to various faiths and am amazed with the alacrity these authors possess for asserting their top position on the hill of religion. We in the Mormon faith are famous for this with our omniscient “I know” pronouncements, but we are far from the only ones engaged in this game.
Several years ago I was having lunch with liberal friend of mine. At the time I was as conservative as you find most LDS members to be. He made a comment that struck me as odd. He said that he didn’t like the religious right because they were so arrogant. They thought they were always right even when they were so obviously wrong (evolution being one example). In my mind I was thinking that conservatives feel the same way about liberals. Liberals are always so arrogant as to assume they alone think for themselves. That to them adhering to ancient doctrines seemed foolish rather than prudent. They are quick to disregard 1000′s of years of wisdom and assume they in their short lifetime are better positioned to compose a moral guide for humanity. In short, I couldn’t believe I was being accused of the very fault I saw in others far more liberal than I. Could it be true that conservatives can be just as arrogant as liberals? Of course the answer is yes!
This affliction does not come about by being liberal or conservative. It is the result of a fixed mind. Why consider other points of view if the answer is already before us? There is no need to consider the evidence of evolution when our spiritual leaders have pronounced that the idea of evolution springs from the master of lies. Likewise there is little incentive to explore the benefits of spirituality and adhering to a time tested code of conduct if one “knows” God does not exist.
It seems that many people lose the ability to converse and learn from one another because they begin to view their adversary as misguided with little important to say. Thus civil discourse becomes impossible because respect for one another is abandoned. It should not be so hard to discuss differences without being able to acknowledge when your rival has made a good argument. Not only does it show we are open-minded to accept new things from someone we may disagree with, but also it helps us to grow, understand and expand our circle of friends.
Unfortunately, this type of conversation does not come naturally to most people. We have to learn how to tolerate what superficially may seem offensive, as well as how to be humble when we are wrong. Too often I see people standing up for what they think is right just for the sake of defending it. When they have been proven to be wrong they continue insisting they are right. How much further our conversations would go if instead of defending the indefensible we simply admit our fault or at the very least admit that we don’t know the answer. This doesn’t hurt anything but possibly our ego. The side benefit is that it signals to your friend that you are, underneath your religious or liberal exterior, a reasonable person. Only once trust is gained can frank and candid conversations arise. If we are always afraid that at any sign of weakness we will be pounced on we will never open up and be honest with ourselves and others about reality. Sadly, most of the dialog I’ve read on blogs is caustic, not really advancing the cause of the author, other than to those that hold similar views. To be truly persuasive you must converse with temperance and respect. For what good is being right if your unable to convince anyone of it?