So, there is this big pronouncement flying around the blogosphere. In case you haven’t seen it before now, I will post it below for reference.
YOU ARE WRONG!!!11
Now that I’ve passed on this seemingly vital bit of ‘wisdom’ that is flying through all of the major outlets on all 9,647 topics you can think of and the ∞+1 others that you haven’t considered, let’s take a minute to look at something more important. So very many people are clubbing others over the head with this ‘wisdom’ and trying to force them to accept the One True Way©. This is resulting in a great deal of pain and anger. This perpetuates the cycle of outrage and discourse devolves into a school yard shouting match, at best.
There is something to keep in mind here, that ‘wisdom’ of the internet is based predominantly in opinion. Opinions are only worth as much as the speaker is valued by the listener(s). Additionally, if the echo chambers of the internet amplify the volume of the speaker, there is the erroneous assumption that this means the speaker must be correct. Once, someone said that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. That, however, can not be. There are things that are going to be true regardless of the opinions of the people viewing them.
A fine example of this is the rate of gravity here on Earth. Objects will fall at a rate of 32 feet per second, per second. Wind resistance will present the illusion that they are falling at different rates, but it is nothing more than an illusion. We can have a stadium full of people screaming that the rate that objects fall is different but it will not change a single thing about how gravitational pull influences objects in their descent to the surface here on Earth. Now, someone is going to ask what about things that can not be proven so conclusively?
My answer to this is quite simple. Is the other person’s perspective doing you or your own any harm? Are they creating problems for you that go beyond the fact that their perspective repulses you or strikes you as patently false? If the answer is no, then stop worrying about it. It doesn’t matter if the person next to you on the bus is truly having a vision of the elemental spirit that is tied to the bus or if they’re having a very elaborate hallucination if they are not doing anyone any harm. Let the matter go. Agree to disagree or discontinue the discussion. Don’t attack someone because you don’t like their views.
Now, am I saying we should not challenge other people when their perspectives differ from our own? No, I am not. If you wish to have a lively discussion about the differences between your belief system and the belief system of someone else, please have that discussion. Conduct it respectfully and try to keep your mind open to the possibility, however remote it might be, that they could be correct. If your body of evidence is sufficient that you can disregard that possibility, that’s fine as well. Don’t assume that you are obligated by said body of evidence to be an autocrat of what this other person’s beliefs should be.
The only times where you should be anything resembling an autocrat of belief is when you are in a situation where you have been approved to do so by all parties in the discussion. Anything else is asking for someone to knock you on the nose and put you back in your seat. We do not have the right to dictate what happens within another person’s mind. We do not live in their heads. We do not have access to their experiences and reasoning. All of the things that we look at and see as logical may be completely alien to the other party in the discussion because their frame of reference is so vastly different.
Accept that there is always going to be a quotient that will be unknown in your discussions. Strive to be understanding of the differences between yourself and others, to encourage such respect towards yourself through the execution of it towards others.
Our senses will fail us at some point. Our powers of observation will fail us at some point. There will come a time where we will be force to ask what is real and what is manufactured by our brains. In that hour, our habits that we have built up in how we challenge other people’s world views will turn upon ourselves. All the cruelty that you subject someone who disagrees with you over the name of the Moon will come back on you when you question your recollection of the name.
Save the anger for when it is necessary. Not for when you are merely uncomfortable, but when there is a problem and a danger that must be addressed. There are far more things to be troubled over in this world than the opinions of humans.