Do you always follow one genre of news? One thought process? One mindset? One way of thinking? Are you convinced that your convictions are correct and have an automatic shut off valve when a varying opinion makes its way into your orbit?
Mask no mask? Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter? Love Trump or hate Trump? To abolish the Police or not? Open schools during the pandemic or keep them closed? Celebrate 4th of July or ban 4th of July? Wall or No Wall? I bet you read this string of topics and at least one or more ruffled your feathers. Something triggered a knee jerk reaction- a feeling of irritation.
Regarding topics of division and debate, humans often have confirmation bias and only want to understand and research topics we already are aligned with and already agree with. We crave the sense of certainty we feel when we can align with a movement or perspective and hold steadfast with our familiar mindset. This is a natural response because it makes us feel confident and safe with our convictions, especially during uncertain times.
What I am asking you to do is to take a moment and cross to the other side of a perspective you currently hold. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy and I’m not saying you will change or alter your perspective. I encourage you to do it for a personal growth opportunity, a way to view some of the world’s most dominant topics from another lens, if only for a moment. This challenge is not only relevant to what is going on in the world today regarding controversial topics, but it is relevant for all facets of life and for all topics from business, family and personal growth.
The current state of the world is one of questions, partisan arguments, cancel culture, opinion silencing and word prohibition. We are living in a time where we are facing old ways of thinking clashing with new perspectives and movements regarding controversial topics and heated debates. As children we grow up and learn values, points of view and judgements from our immediate family. Most people adopt the views of their parents as children and as we age we start to form our own separate views of the world and current events. As we grow into our adult self we get set into our ways, especially when we only read and listen to what we already feel to be the perspective that is aligned with our current views.
One thing I valued about my college debate class was the opportunity to experience arguing opposing sides of a given topic. Having the ability to both defend and attack a topic despite what you may initially feel about it, demonstrates how we can be sold into or out of a variety of feelings based on well-crafted words and confirmation bias. I mention this because I have switched my mindset on a variety of topics as the years have gone by, based on how it personally related to me from an experience I have had or those close to me have had. This experience is why I encourage people to switch up their information on occasion and simply take a moment to hear where other people are coming from. The goal is to at least humor the notion that this can lead to a compromise or at least a voice being heard, a path to a better understanding of other perspectives.
Let us ask ourselves – why do we feel the need for us to think everyone has to share our same views or they are enemies we can’t tolerate? You don’t need to have hive mind with your friends or family for them to be acceptable company. Of course, birds of a feather flock together and my closest friends have many similarities but they also have a great degree of variation regarding political, religious, and social views. I appreciate the diverse perspective, I have learned from it and although I may not be aligned with all perspectives, I appreciate and understand the freedom to have personal views. It’s okay to branch out your view points and your circle and learn to have discussion with others an see if maybe you learn new perspective.
The greatest thing you can do to enrich yourself and your mind is to continue to grow by seeking knowledge, information, and avoiding the hive mind and “sheeple” tendencies we have. It is good to diversify your thought process and it is an imperative step in personal growth. The ultimate goal with this exercise is to understand that we can coexist with varying opinions, we may even learn from those we don’t initially agree with.
Overall humans can unanimously agree we want to be happy, healthy, treated fairly and have opportunity. This is a shared desire from all reaches of the globe. Once we can set aside the need to divide, argue and separate, we can begin the process for growth and evolution, which is what I believe we are ultimately here for.