One of the reasons I adore reading is because I love to 'see the thoughts' of people who think, truly think, about what they write. As a result my list of favorite authors is short. In my own opinion, many people simply spew (I certainly have been guilty of that) and never engage their brain. I am not so concerned as to their political or religious beliefs - I am smart enough to read and decide if the person has a good argument or not - but I like to feel challenged. Reading other people's ideas, especially those that differ from my own, challenges me.
What I find sad about so many people today is their refusal to stretch their own minds, to consider or ponder the ideas and thoughts of others. It appears to me, and I may be wrong, that we have sunk into a kind of petulant narcissism. We are easily influenced by one sentence memes on FaceBook, get intimidated by men shouting angrily about bigotry, are afraid to tell an American Teenager that they are making foolish and dangerous decisions and are overwhelmed when someone bangs their little spoon on their highchair demanding their own way about anything. In other words, we have lost our intellectual courage.
For example, I recently spent some time on a Facebook thread about Truth with a young woman (younger than me, okay? That makes her an infant...I don't care if she was 40), who used the tired old argument about 'your truth verses my truth'. She even cited her Catholic education, stating that she had been taught in her Catholic school growing up that there is 'truth' and then there is 'truth based on religion' but there is no objective truth.
I have no doubt she was taught that at her Catholic School. In fact I have no doubt there are Catholic Schools all over the world teaching gibberish like this to impressionable 8 year olds in an effort to turn out a generation of 'nice' Catholics, the kind that don't know a damn thing about history, The Faith or that they are being robbed of their birthright by their elders.
When I challenged her with the basic 'a rock is a rock and not a pizza' argument, which was a philosophical argument I was taught at Christ the King School in second grade back in 1962, she could not respond. Instead, she leaped onto the back of another horse midstream in her attempt to cross the intellectual river across which we were both fording. Abandoning her steed named "No Such Thing as Objective Truth" she climbed upon and grabbed the reins of 'You cannot impose your morality on others". That argument, of course, is so weak that even my 14 year old niece could demolish it (and she attends public school in California, for the love of pete). I pointed at the laws on the books that make behaviors that affect the common good illegal.
She called me a bigot, cyber screamed at me that I am the reason she left The Church (I am, she said, a close minded beeyatch) and left the conversation.
Look, I do not think I would have changed her mind. What makes me sad is her reaction to a solid argument. She did not try and outthink me; rather, she attacked what she did not understand and what had backed her into a corner. An otherwise loving and caring woman turned into a cornered raccoon, spitting and slashing her way to freedom.
She is not alone. Too many of us have lost the ability to think, to stretch our minds. We cannot listen to the 'other side's' arguments because they make us mad. The arguments make us mad because, essentially, we are not getting our own way. Sometimes we even make preemptive strikes by starting a discussion with "bigotry dictates" or "those who hate people like me think", thereby destroying any possibility of using our brains for something other than holding our ears apart.
I have been guilty of this myself. My goal today is to try and really listen to people, and then to respond to what they say or propose with respect. The respect will be demonstrated not just by the tone of my voice or writing, but by showing them that I carefully considered their argument.....and here is my response.
If someone like me can do this, then I think it is possible for everyone to do it.
Even a Raider Fan.
Have a great day, people!