2) conflict- to one degree or another, or 3) beg-to- differ, at best.
Here`s a case in point – my chat with my eldest son. I was pontificating on the “obvious” meaning of increasing surveillance, fear, and polarization in western countries (particularly the U.S.). To me, as I observe events unfolding in the world (at any point in time, actually, past or present, but I refer here specifically to the US post election drama), I see both positive and negative future possibilities at the same time. That day, I was focused on the negative, and it came through in my communication, of course. So as I was opining on my "soapbox" about history repeating itself, my son kept trying to interject a different point of view. I was having none of it. “Well, Mom, there might be other possibilities....” “I don’t think so, Mom”, etc. My response, like anyone with a strong opinion, was to work harder to prove my point. I made my case by drawing on all kinds of historical examples, and current events, and insisted the only rational interpretation of things was....well, my way.
My son and I have friendly debates often, so we were both happy to agree to disagree, and went our separate ways for the rest of the day. But later on, I caught myself feeling self-satisfied about my opinion, and how well I made my points, and realized – with a shock – that I was doing the very thing I teach NOT to do! Two things came from that wonderful realization:
1) I wanted to be right more than I wanted to learn about his perspective
2) I know better – I know that whatever we focus on grows bigger, especially when we add emotion into the mix. So why was I trying to be right about something I did not want?
We can look to many places in the world right now, or within families that we know, or on Facebook, where there exists strong polarity between points of view. This is all it is- unthinkingly sticking to our opinions! The solution is so simple – let`s all check ourselves every now and then and ask: is there another way of seeing this? Or am I arguing so I can be right?
One parting note: I see a big distinction between having preferences (which, to me, we cannot function without) and opinions. If you have preference, you know what you align with, but you allow for other versions of reality. Preferences allow peaceful co-existence, for the most part. Opinions, on the other hand, put forward “the way it is” as if that version of reality is fact. When teaching critical thinking, I try to teach the difference between fact and opinion....sometimes not an easy feat, given that most of us (myself included, as above) act like our own opinions are facts!
Readers, if you are tussling with issues like this in your own life, and have questions on how to handle it, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org - your question could be published in my Communicating Edge advice column http://www.janetdesautels.com/the-communicating-edge.html for others to benefit from.