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Not seeing eye to eye

October 7, 2012

Part of the reason that I blog is to explain my position. To explain my thoughts and feelings. To be understood. To be recognized. To reach some sort of agreement (whether that involves me changing my opinion or someone else changing theirs).

I don’t know why I keep doing it though. I don’t know why I keep having conversations with people I disagree with. Actually, I know why: it’s because I think that if I just restate my points with more words, or maybe with different words, then the other guy will understand what I’m saying. Or maybe if they restate their points with more words, or maybe with different words, and answer the questions that I ask, then I will understand what they are saying.

The real question I have is: why do I still think this is a thing? Why do I still think that this process is fruitful, when I have so many data points that show that we rarely see eye to eye, and in fact, the conversation can really just make us dislike each other.

I think it’s because I don’t want to give up on people, don’t want to give up on myself. I don’t want to come to grips with the reality that things aren’t so ideal after all.

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  1. you can understand a position without agreeing to it.

    it sounds like you are confusing being heard with being convincing.

  2. I like the new graphic at the top of your blog. it’s classy.

  3. Nina,

    I am probably doing exactly just that. I just don’t know how to stop it.

    • you need to be okay with other people getting to have their own views

      understanding that what is compelling and convincing to you is not so much for others

      and that you’re the only who has to be comfortable with what you believe

      and what kind of person that inspires, supports or allows you to be.

  4. you have no reason to think you are not being understood

    you might be over estimating how much the other person is actually paying attention

    conversation sometimes appears similar to 2 people monologging at each other.

  5. I hear ya, Andrew. I think the need to be understood is a very strong one. It’s the cause of most of the arguments in a marriage. Each person presumes to understand the position of the other, but really most of the time they’re not listening to each other. They think they already know.

    So it is with most of us. I was recently discussing the ongoing feud between Ezra Benson and Hugh B Brown. Both of them had amazing things to impart, and I wonder if they could not have found an area of agreement had they just actually listened to one another instead of making assumptions based on their political views. I think they might have found more in common than they thought.

  6. I’ve had similar frustrations lately – mostly on Facebook. I’ve determined that political or religious conversations are worse than fruitless . . . the keyboard magically makes everyone 100% confident in their position . . . and when our opinions come out of our fingers instead of our mouths it seems we lose the filter, say things we’d never say in person, and end up damaging relationships more often than we should.

    I do, however, think it’s a good thing to keep talking about what you think. You enjoy it, for one, but people are more affected than you’ll know. We like to fight and argue in the moment and then consider later . . . change of opinion is hard.

    • I’ve determined that political or religious conversations are worse than fruitless

      My rule is to expect offensively-worded opinions and no change of position from people when it comes to: religion, diet, and politics [so I’d add one to your list Jefferson].

      Those are such deeply-held, and long-attained beliefs that no one arrived at in 400 characters or less. So I never expect my comment to just blow-their-mind and convert them on the spot.

  7. Nina,

    Thanks for the follow-up comments…that was exactly what I needed to hear.


    And even when we are aware that we are making assumptions, it’s so difficult to stop…


    Facebook is one realm that I have learned to be very tame…I rarely, if ever, make serious, controversial political claims on my FB wall, and I keep my religious views to the various Mormon FB groups.

    I am definitely becoming more aware of the difference between what happens "in the moment" and what we consider later…

  8. I too go through phases where I’ll not check things online very often and really feel close to just de-activating all my blog contacts — followed by phases where I’ll seem to [all-of-a-sudden] have a lot to say and other blogs seem to all have good material that I just-so-happen to have plenty of well-worded opinions on.

    Sometimes I have the patience to argue back-and-forth with an adamant [and borderline a-hole-ish] commenter — and sometimes I’ll start to write out something, and then just delete it all because I don’t have the energy to keep-up the conversation should someone respond.

    The only thing I’ve been able to conclude from the observation that I haven’t just gotten-off of online post-writing and blog-commenting is I must derive some intrinsic joy from it — independent of any positive response I may or may not get, or any minds I may or may not change.

    It seems that I have a narrative in my head that gets out of me best when I write it out online. And the [very small] circle I have in my online-world seems to be just enough of a feedback-system to keep me from just ditching it and keeping any thoughts/opinions I come up with to myself.

  9. kmarjoribanks permalink

    Almost everyone who was raised in a cult and then leaves it spends (wastes) a good portion of the next phase of their lives trying to convince others to join them or understand them. It is a shock to live in a world where everyone has a different opinion and you don’t have to be ashamed of it or really explain it. The freedom of it is hard to accept. I’ve been out since 1969 and it is so far behind me now I rarely think about it. Don’t give up the thrill of being alive for the security of pleasing everyone. There is so much vagueness in all of the comments here. You have conformed your thoughts to your community so much thinking for yourself is like being able to fly. Go for it. Leave the others behind. The best thing you can do for yourself and the ones you love is to show the example of being happy without all the nonsense of the church. I am a descendant of the fool Martin Harris who financed the book of mormon and supported joseph smith while he wrote it. I am also a descendant of Brigham Young. Nothing bad has happened to me since I left the church, I have had a wonderful and very interesting life. My only child is a great success and a fine and moral person. Trust your instincts and follow your heart. In time you won’t be able to believe you ever believed such nonsense. You will find that the spiritual life is available to all who seek it, and miracles can happen without the so call “priesthood” .
    Mormonism seems to have co-opted all of the spiritual blessings that belong to all of us without need for baptism, or covenants of any kind and tried to sell them back to the gullible and weak minded. Keep in mind that the early days of the church were much like the terrible times of the inquisition in Europe. People had to profess their faith for fear of their lives and had to make their children believe in their faith lest some innocent remark bring the sadism of the Inquisition down upon them.
    Try to rinse it all away. Laugh at the silliness of the past. Pity those who don’t have the courage to
    live and go go go into a future free of the drab conformity and abandonment of selfhood that you have experienced all of your life.

  10. kmarjoribanks,

    Sorry I didn’t see your comment for so long…I’ll just respond to one thing:

    You will find that the spiritual life is available to all who seek it, and miracles can happen without the so call “priesthood” .

    I don’t see this. I don’t get it. I don’t see that all who seek will find the spiritual life. Some people are spiritual (regardless of whether they seek or do not seek), and some people aren’t. That is more to my experience.h

  11. I’ve never understood how:

    “You must leave the LDS church so you can be spiritual and have miracles”

    is any different than:

    “You must join with the LDS church so you can be spiritual and have miracles”

    But then again — I’m not a very big fan of “musts” [I tend to judge the quality of a POV by how many “must”s it contains] — regardless of which end of the spectrum uses them.

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