By John Cowan
I wrote down these thoughts in bed the other morning prior to a radio interview. The electric blanket was on which could explain why you might think them half-baked…
Wow! There are lot of opinions out there: vaccinations, the moon landings, the shape of the earth, how the Bible is interpreted, how to discipline or educate children, political views, the value of supplements, so on and so on. I have views and opinions, and so do you… the difference is, my views are all absolutely correct!
A multitude of views has always existed, but the internet puts those opinions much more in my face… and up my nose. I confess, I get heated and uncomfortable online at times.
Here’s a few tips for surviving in this marketplace of ideas.
1. Realise: I don’t think many people change their mind because of on-line debates. Regardless of how logical and true your argument is, I doubt it will do much good, so why bother wasting emotion and risking offence? I confess I have engaged in back-and-forth arguments online. Every time I hit ‘send’ I think, “Right, that settles it. Irrefutable logic and evidence. They will now grovel in submission and concede I am right.” It’s never, ever happened to me… I wonder if it ever happens at all.
2. Relationships are going to be more compelling than facts. It’s a fallacy that people make their decisions logically. Maybe they should, but we actually make our decisions emotionally. If you are ever going to convince your daughter to vaccinate your grandkids or budge your cousin from his belief that the Queen is really a lizard, have them over for a barbecue and tell them how nice their hair looks. They will not let you anywhere near their beliefs until you are first of all warmly held in their heart.
3. They may be wrong, but they are not necessarily dumb or bad. You might be astounded that they believe what they believe, you might detest what they think is right and true, but there is no need to doubt their integrity, sanity, or intelligence. Good people who hold valid views on just about everything else can still have a few wonky ideas in their brain-cabinet. There is no need to denigrate or demonise them.
4. Humility and respect are always worthwhile. People are always worth listening to. It’s a scary thought but … I can be wrong. But not about that - I am one hundred per cent certain that I can be wrong! It might be me that needs to change my mind.
5. Some ideas really are dangerous and need to be resisted. But as toxic as those ideas may be, always remember those ideas are currently residing inside of a human being: a person of immense value and worth. Still try to like, love, and respect the person, even if the software they are currently running is seriously suspect.