In disputes upon moral or scientific points, let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument and gaining a new discovery.
On Having Discussion
I firmly believe that our world revolves around people’s daily conversations. To go much deeper on important stuffs we think they deserve thoughtful elaboration we come to have a discussion. The attempt to exchange ideas on particular topic is a good thing to habituate. However, what makes it better is the way we run it. A good discussion is an eye-opening talk—you can define your own ‘good discussion’, of course. To stretch our mind so it can give more spaces to different ideas expressed by our partners, I hereby suggest some essential elements to consider:
1) Don’t take the counter argument personally.
This is a must-do. When you ask someone to share their views, for example, about politics, then they turn out having completely different stances with what you have in mind, easy. I repeat, take it e-a-s-y. People have their own ideas. They get their point of views from various sources and life experiences. Perhaps they follow a politics enthusiast you don’t know about in twitter. Perhaps they read websites you never heard of. Perhaps they just don’t believe anymore on local media—because they think the journalists continuously report lousy news they are already sick of—that you still refer to. When one disagrees with your views, it does not imply that your brain works unwell.
2) Take the counter argument wisely.
By saying in a wise manner, you can simply ignore the immature emotion that strongly wants to “blame” your discussion partner for having different reason. Put your ego off. This childish emotion unsurprisingly comes out when you have not met your closest persons for years and appear they now ‘change’. Come on. Your microscopic cells even change every time you breathe. Let me tell you this: people with counter arguments are your first opinion’s examiners. The evidence that supports their arguments can be a useful comparison to assess your own analysis. If you identify yourself as a long life learner, you would not mind listening to them and pleasantly accept the unlike-minded persons as your invaluable intellectual challenges.
3) Don’t take your assumptions seriously.
As we all get older, people grow up and choose values they believe upon. These values influence the way they think. Since you can’t really access the thoughts people are juggling with, you only can have your own impressions from the words they utter (or they type). This is usually where the judgments start. Then, you create your assumption that you think they must be true. When they express their dissimilar opinions, it does not mean that they ask you to go along with them. They never force you to nod in agreement. Never. They just express what they have in mind. That’s it. You are one step away from having the chance of running a fruitful discussion—the eye-opening one—once you let these assumptions cloud your mind. (Plus, Be careful with your explicit judgments. They may also discourage your partners’ intention to explain their views since they might not want to get in trouble breaking the friendship.)
An eye-opening discussion is rendezvous of people who still enjoy the luxury of freedom of thinking. It results renewed minds with another conceptual framework. It is not a place to get your opinions validated by others, if this is what you are looking for.
Also, if you claim yourself as an open-minded person but you are easily agitated by different way of thinking and ended up attacking the person instead of the actual arguments she/he makes, I doubt your open-mindedness.
At last, an eye-opening discussion is not to be right at all costs but to understand and advance the collective understanding. Bear in mind that it is not a room for hearing what you want to hear.
Menurutku, agama adalah urusan manusia langsung dengan Sang Khalik. Tak perlu didiskusikan mengapa aku beragama ini, mengapa aku memilih agama itu, mengapa aku mempelejari agama yang lain. Bagiku, beragama itu bukan soal siapa putih siapa hitam. siapa benar siapa salah, siapa kawan siapa lawan, siap banyak umat siapa sepi peminat, siapa beriman siapa sesat, siapa suci siapa pendosa, siapa masuk surga siapa calon penghuni neraka. Itu di luar kuasa kita, umat manusia. Aku tak memperoleh kebanggaan meluap-luap jika lawan bicaraku ternyata memeluk agama yang sama denganku. Juga tidak ada pengaruh apa-apa jika toh mereka dari agama berbeda. Tapi di negeri ini, diskusi agama bisa berlangsung panjang membuat gerah. Aku lebih memilih untuk menyimpan masalah agama dalam kotak privasiku.
The Constantly-Changing Us
Remember the catchy, if not cliché, phrase, “I want someone who accepts me just the way I am”?
How do you define ‘acceptance’?
I come up with the idea that acceptance should be timeless. Just the way you are does not necessarily refer to merely who you are at the moment. It should be not only about me now.
I meet new people. I interact with them. I face problems. I criticize society. I experience bittersweet moments. I grow up.
We’d never stopped growing up, after all. Ever. (Unless you deliberately choose to cease doing so.)
And once Amy Tan wrote, “My values shift and grow with my experiences—and as my context changes, so does what I believe.”
I am a thinking being. I do reasoning. I keep questioning. I go exploring.
I will not stop learning.
P.S. Just one quick advice: if someone tells you he/she is willing to accept you just the way you are, do make sure that both of you are in the same page—that acceptance is about understanding the current me and the future you; the constantly-changing us.
Maybe you’re negligible. You’re inconsequential. You’re minor.
Maybe you’re unidentifiable, you’re anonymous.
You have more chances to be somebody your heart calls you to be.
You have more options to do things that you think matter without thinking about the fuss people will make.
You are always gonna be ‘a person’ in a crowd of people who just live to imitate.