Conversation Over Confirmation

Conversation has been loosing it’s place among people since the mass adoption of social media. This is to our detriment.

Rather than engaging with the other and being challenged by what is different than us, we retreat to groups of people who think and act exactly as we do. We have become so weak in our positions that the mere idea of a someone challenging our beliefs terrifies us. The primary purpose for engagement is, more often than not, to prove that we are right. We might engage with like minded people so they can confirm our beliefs. We engage with people different than us so we can confirm our bias. We do not listen to what people say, but hear trigger words that allow us to deny that person their reason and then push them into a generalization we can judge without feeling guilty.

In all honesty, it is not social media’s fault. Humans have been doing this to other humans since we stepped out of the Garden. In the Bible we have names of Mary and Martha, but at the well it is just the Samaritan Woman. It is in our fallen nature to take a person, put them in a group or category so we no longer have to see their humanity. If we did not do this, the guilt of our judgments would be too much to bear.

I do believe that this is in our nature to do. I believe it was created for good, but we use it for evil. With that belief, I cannot say, “never categorize anyone.” The reality is that, in order to function in the world, we have to categorize so we can make decisions faster. If we tried to get to know every snake personally before determining it is poisonous, we will end up in rough shape. So grouping helps decisions making, which helps survival.

The transmission of ideas has nothing to do with survival though. We can all continue living without knowing the difference between pre and post humanism. We take our survival instincts and then mix them with the terror that comes from being challenged and create a monster that reduces humanity rather than increase it.

This would be my challenge: Do you see the other person when talking with them? Like…really see them?

Do you know them? Do you know their story? Do you know why they think the way they think? Do you know their background and the road they have had to travel to come to that conclusion?

In my limited experience on this planet, I have found that most people have good reasons. We may all not apply the same level of reason or the same amount of time on reflection, but there is a story there. A journey, that tells how someone came into their own.

If we are to engage in more meaningful conversations, we must see the other person. We must realize that the soul on the other side of that table, drinking coffee, is more valuable than me being “right.” The relationship from knowing someone will bare more fruit then bullying them with arguments. We must also remember the double edged sword. In order to diminish someone else’s dignity, we must forfeit ours. Likewise, see the other and value their soul builds their dignity and and our own.

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