Saturday, November 26, 2011

Seek First To Understand

Thanks, Dr. Covey, that's a good habit.  Seek first to understand.

We need to understand, clearly and correctly, before we start bellowing into our own bullhorns.

I posted this excerpt from my last post on FB:

Sometimes it's easier just to use the old standbys.  We all have them.  An issue arises, say the death penalty, gay marriage, abortion, taxes, social programs, you name it, and we simply play the recorder in our heads.  We are firm on the issue and we speak our written script, dismissing the ideas of others and blockading our own ability to reassess.  

This can be good and it can be bad.  

It can be good because when we've made a decision on a particular issue, we don't waffle based on the latest or loudest argument.  We can stay firm in our most core beliefs. 

However, it can be bad because what if we need to hear a new thought on the subject?  What if we made up our minds on that subject in youth or before we had all the information we have today?  We are continually learning, growing, maturing, regardless of our age.  I keep telling my kids that learning is not just at school and it never ends; it's a lifelong process. 

People thought this was akin to inviting them to get up on their own soapboxes and tell me either publicly or in a private message exactly why they are "against" or "for" gay marriage, death penalty, abortion, etc. you name it.

Let me be blunt: I don't care.  My point was not to give my peeps an outlet for their preconceived ideas.  My point was exactly the OPPOSITE!  It was to make them THINK about the other side of the argument to which they so steadfastly adhere.

And, maybe, with a little THOUGHT and a lot less sputtering, we can all quietly examine our beliefs, core or otherwise.  And maybe that will make our beliefs stronger.  Or maybe that will open a door for us to join the other side that we've demonized for so long.  Or maybe it will only (but importantly) give us an opportunity to think a bit, to examine clearly and carefully our beliefs and why we hold them dear.

I had a friend who was adamantly for a woman's right to choose.  And, I was helping him become a Christian.  And, I didn't fight him over it, but I asked him to think about it because I believe that you cannot be FOR abortion and FOR the death penalty when God was pretty clear about the 6th Commandment: "You shall not murder."

My friend thought about it and came to the realization that it was his mother's core belief, not his own.  She believed in a woman's right to choose for very concrete reasons.  He understood that he was carrying HER belief, not his own, as a flag of honor.  In grasping that concept he was able to disown the belief and research his own views on the subject.  He came up with his OWN belief.  

I won't tell you what it is because it doesn't matter what side he chose, the important part is that he made up his own mind.  He spent time talking to his mentor and others that he respected and looked into what information was available on both sides of the issues.  Then, he came up with his own viewpoint.

And that's not to say that it won't change.  Or it should.  But it might.  And, is that bad if we're continually growing, learning and developing as we should?

The 24/7 news channels and explosive talk shows don't allow for examination of our beliefs, changes in thought, or adapting to new information.  The one who screams loudest wins!  The one who gets the audience on their side wins!  The one who has the most camera time wins!

We need less winners and more philosophers.

And, what we DESPERATELY need more of is quiet.  We can't listen when our mouths are open and a dozen people are trying to shout us down.  We need time to think, closed mouths to hear, and prayerful introspection of our core values to understand why we hold them.

Seek first to understand.  Gather.  Research.  Listen.  THEN, tell me exactly what you believe and why.

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