David Brooks makes a point in his book, ‘The Social Animal’ that we are more alike in our thinking as human beings than we might believe. This idea was expanded upon in an article recently in ‘The Week’ magazine. The thought provoking questions posed by the later article made me stop and think about how I have formed my ideas and positions over the years. Have I changed my mind on things or seriously thought about why I believe as I do regarding political, social or environmental issues? Or have I simply been reading and searching for things that will verify ‘my’ truth.
To challenge my own opinions, I have chosen to read and listen to ideas from ‘the other side.’ We all know that the ‘other side’ is anything and everything that doesn’t support our own world view. I must say, I have found that some of the information can seriously disrupt my mindset! Yet, isn’t that the purpose of this incredible thing we call our brain. To take in information from varied sources and let those thoughts roll around in our mind for awhile so we develop a deeper understanding or even a new way of thinking? Maybe this is what is meant by life-long learning.
Over the next 16 months we will be deluged with political adds, speeches and hopefully, substantial debates. The question remains if we will occasionally choose to tune into a channel that we know has a view that is different from our own in order to hear viewpoints that we may disagree with at first blush. When you think about it we have nothing to lose and everything to gain – information is a powerful thing!
Our ideological choices and affiliations are important. Yet, in a country that emphasizes the rights of the individual it seems not only important but an obligation to stretch our comfort zone and consider a different way of looking at something. The result may be that we continue to hold our existing beliefs sacred but at least we will feel more confident in knowing why.
Anyone running for a political office over the next year and a half would be wise to remember that the fact checkers from the national T.V. channels are alive and well and will be quick to point out the error in any statement. In the spirit of full disclosure sometimes fact checkers are our greatest hope. The beauty of this is that much of our work sorting through the ‘he said, she said’ statements will be done for us. Our challenge, as individuals, is whether or not we are willing to be influenced by new information.
As the writer, Peter Wehner in CommentaryMagazine.com said it basically boils down to being brave enough to ask ourselves “Do you think you have ever been wrong?”
Have a great few days!