I consider myself a well-informed American. Lately, the political scene in this country has been chaotic to say the least. I also consider myself a conservative. (Please don’t stop reading if you’re a liberal!) And at 47 years old, I’m pretty solid about what I believe. So does that mean there’s nothing for me to learn?
For years, I thought that if I set my car’s battery on the concrete for storage, it would drain the battery and ruin it. This may or may not have been true at one time, but I was surprised to discover that it’s not at all true today. Things change, but we can get left behind if we don’t open our minds and seek truth.
This is why I often read stories from left-leaning publications and watch mainstream media news even though I am conservative. Yes, I read the ENTIRE story, no matter how ridiculous is sounds at first, and even though I may have already read the entire story from a right-wing publication. After all, I thought the battery-ruining concrete sounded completely normal until I researched why it would drain a battery and, in turn, found out it was just a wive’s-tale! The same may hold true for other beliefs you and I have.
I was in the City of Midwest City last week for a meeting with the City Engineer and Planner for a client. As I walked into the building, I remembered the last time I’d entered that building. It was to change my affiliation from Democrat to Republican.
I was 23 years old, and was dating my wife, when we got into a discussion about Democratic vs. Republican values. Now I was moving out and taking part in running my own business and paying my own bills, so I started to look at things a bit differently. I had recently been passed over for some financial aide for college and also had been passed over for an Oklahoma City firefighter job because of affirmative action, and my mind was opened up to a new perspective of wealth redistribution. I didn’t like or agree that the best person wouldn’t necessarily get the job. I also didn’t like that when I got a small raise, it had bumped me up into a higher tax bracket. That promotion actually meant I would pay a higher percentage of taxes. I felt punished for being promoted. And today, my family is experiencing the squeeze again today as my paychecks are about 8% smaller because of increases in the spiraling Affordable Care Act rates.
In the end, information is very important, but nothing trumps experience. And when I see the marches in the street and wonder, “Exactly what are they protesting?” I must also remember that many of those marching have not had the same experiences I have had. Give them a chance, don’t ridicule them, and at the same time, stand up for your views while seeking truth.
So, as my posts on Facebook and tweets on twitter have been getting record response, both positive and negative, I’ve had to come to the realization that the whole answer might only come from seeking truth. Not just the truth I fight for and base my own principles on, but others’ truths, too. Truths that are the base of the beliefs for what they are fighting for. I once wrote a blog called, “There’s gotta be a reason for that.” It was a revelation that people don’t generally disagree with you for no reason at all. There is a reason. And if you seek the reasons, you might better understand what others’ beliefs and principles are based on. And you just might find out that the Car Battery is just fine sitting on the concrete! You may also then have a basis of persuasion that isn’t one-sided. After all, how can a one-sided argument prove anything?
Ask some questions of those who oppose you. Questions like this:
- Have you always thought this way?
- When did you begin to think this way?
- What were some experiences that made you think this way?
- Where can I learn more about why you think this way?
I believe only then can we learn from each other, and either strengthen our argument or learn that we might have been wrong all along. After all, no one is right all of the time, right?
Danny was the winner of The biggest Loser, Season 8, and is a highly sought after Motivational Speaker, Author of several books, and musician/songwriter. You can contact him directly by emailing email@example.com, or following him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thedannycahill/ or https://www.facebook.com/LoseYourQuit/ or on twitter at @DannyCahill1