"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio..."
I subscribe to a daily ministry called Positive Christianity whose minister, Christopher Chenowith, sends out an email to all his subscribers every day with uplifting and inspirational sermons, notes, and humor. It never fails to start my day off right and always gives me something to reflect on. This past week, one of his emails contained the following quote:
"The word "absurd" comes from the Latin ab.-surdus meaning "absolutely deaf." To fail to listen is to become absurd. On the other hand, obedience is from a Latin root, obaudiens, which means "to listen thoroughly.""
It got me to thinking about how so many of us here in the U.S. have become deaf to anything but the drumbeat of the position we have chosen to support. I see people refusing to listen to each others point of view, and only looking for points of attack or opportunities to irritate and bully. Hunting doggedly for moments when they can interject their "telling" points to prove the other person wrong, rather than actually listening and hearing something that might have an effect on their own chosen world view.
When you are so wrapped up in preconceptions and prejudices that you cannot hear anything that doesn't agree with what you have decided is true, you are being "absurd". Truth doesn't need your anger to support it, truth speaks for itself. Any argument that is wrapped up in anger, ugliness, insults, and condemnation of anyone who disagrees with you is, by its very nature, flawed and without merit. Any "truth" that cannot survive an open and honest discussion is, by its very nature, not true. If you cannot discuss your beliefs reasonably, then perhaps what you perceive as "true" is no more than an ill-informed opinion.
Listening thoroughly, not solely with the intent of looking for a wedge you can throw into whatever premise is being presented, can open your world to new understanding. That change can be scary, we all know, but changing your perceptions of the world can be the scariest undertaking of all. However, choosing not to listen and refusing to even consider a different point of view does not make your opinion "true". In the end, it only makes you absurd.
To listen thoroughly, to give weight and meaning to another's point of view, it is not only courteous, but it is necessary in order for society to function well. There is no "my way or the highway" in the real world; that only exists in totalitarian microcosms (whether of the home or wider scale) and is not sustainable in the long term without some sort of violence, actual or emotional. As human beings, our minds are designed to be inquisitive and sort through information. Information that should be coming in on a regular basis as knowledge expands about any given subject matter. Becoming hidebound in your own chosen ideology doesn't actually change reality to fit with your concept of it, it only closes you off from what is true in this ever-changing world.
Buck up, Buttercup. There's so much out there you haven't encountered yet, so much information that you haven't had the privilege of running across yet. Given that your point of view and knowledge base is necessary limited by the time you have on this earth, the effort you put into actually expanding said knowledge base, and the limits of the information that is available to you as an individual, wouldn't it behoove you to actually listen to someone else every now and then who might have spent just as much time looking into what interests them as you have yourself? Just a thought.
Life is full of changes and it is also delightfully full of things you haven't yet begun to dream of, Horatio.