I was at a party last night. I rarely go out, I’m just far too much of a homebody. More on that later…
I was at this party and my wife and I went and had a conversation with this couple. They were incredibly nice people, thoughtful, insightful and you know,…nice. My wife fit in quite well with them. I am, how do I put this gently, edgier. That isn’t what I want to talk about though. These very nice, very smart people have different views on things from my wife and I. We had a great conversation, we didn’t dig too deep into some of the shady areas where we might have disagreed, it was a party after all. I think we could have though. I think disagreement is okay. I don’t believe that every person I encounter has to either agree with me, or I must somehow convince them that they should. I like to meet and talk to people who don’t feel about things the way that I do. I learn things that way, not the least of which is that thoughtful, intelligent people don’t all have the same views about things.
Now that seems like a fairly obvious point to make, but I don’t think most people realize it. I have met far too many people in life who are absolutely convinced that if they can find the right article or words, or argument they will absolutely be able to sway me to their point of view. Sometimes they are right, very few of my views are so strong that I am not willing to re-look at them. Generally, though, those type of people don’t have all that well thought out views, they believe what they believe cause they saw it on 60 minutes, or read the first half of a paragraph from an internet article. They are not views founded on actual information, though they are held strongly nevertheless. That doesn’t even mean they are wrong, they may be totally correct, but not always, not even often, but sometimes.
We tend to seek out information that agrees with our own point of view. This is an actual thing, it is called confirmation bias, There is an excellent study on the subject here. We do this in lots or areas, politically, spiritually, emotionally. We like as people to reinforce ideas we already hold. We seek out people that agree with us, we avoid those that don’t. This is a sad thing. I wish I was more open, I mean I think I do pretty well at this, but not well enough. I am fascinated by what people believe, how they have come to believe it, and how that belief affects their actions. I love to understand these things, though sometimes it makes me inordinately sad to discover the truth behind some beliefs. Watching Law and Order is NOT a good way to get information on the legal system, or The Good Wife, or any movie ever made about law and courtrooms. I find it intriguing how many people form their views from watching the View, as if the ladies seated around that table have insight that is far reaching and somehow beyond ours, simply because they are on TV. I watch the news most mornings and I am often shocked at how biased the stories are. We mislead on a regular basis. One such story in the news right now is about a Canadian Journalist who is imprisoned in Egypt. Okay, this is not in any way a good thing, but many of the stories I have watched or read, talk about the Federal Government (though they mostly just say Stephen Harper) isn’t doing anything to help. The problem is, that Mohamed Fahmy isn’t just a Canadian journalist. He has dual citizenship with Egypt. That means he is one of their citizens too, which means he is subject to their laws in a way that a Canadian journalist would not be. I want to be clear, I have no idea if he is guilty or not guilty of what he has been convicted of, the point is, we want to criticize our government for not doing enough to help a convict of a country not ours, who is a citizen of that country. So the media leave out that part, because we all might feel differently, we might not, but we aren’t given all the information so who knows.
I digress, we form our views, often on spotty information, and then hold to them like they are well thought out, long held, rational ideas. I guess what I am saying is I really liked that couple they were nice, I hope we have further chances to talk.