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Haady Mohammed holds a degree and masters in Law, with specialism in public international law and arbitration. He has worked for five years

My First Blog

Welcome… As the fourth of four (or maybe more) I have been rather late in posting to this blog.

I am spoiled for choice, do I write about politics, the Iraqi election results and the post-election negotiations, or about what I’ve been witnessing in Iraq in the last few months I’ve been spending there? No. I prefer to start with my views on discussions – a discussion on discussion if you permit me.

This blog is about putting views forward, and entering into discussions in an attempt to reach the truth whatever the matter may be, or agreeing to differ (without killing each other, or de-Baathifying someone from the forum). Even before that, I can hear the wise words of an old friend who would never enter into any discussion without first laying the ground rules, the ‘ethics of discussion’ as he called them. I won’t go into the need for mutual respect..etc, but want to concentrate on one fundamental issue:

Going into a discussion with an open mind.

That is probably the most difficult thing. We all claim it. We all say it. We clobber the other over the head with it in a discussion:

“You aren’t listening to me with an open mind”

“Yes I am!”

“No you’re not!”

Yet, rarely, do we follow it. We usually enter into a discussion with the aim of convincing the other we are right, or to make known that the other person’s view is wrong. How many times do we enter into a discussion and say to ourselves, “I am going to listen more than I am going to argue, and I am ready to admit my views are wrong, and the other person’s view is right?” – I do it all the time!

But 10 seconds in, and I start to think, “Right, I’ve given him the first chance to speak, but how wrong is he! I am so ready to admit that my views are right, and his are wrong”

Ok ok.. I was advised not to write long posts otherwise no one would be clicking my name any time soon… but seriously, before I go, how do you know you are entering sincerely with an open mind into a discussion? Without an open mind our thinking can’t develop. I think that whenever we enter into a discussion to change the other person’s view, prove them wrong, or prove ourselves right, we have lost our open mind. The only way to have the open mind is to enter any discussion with this in mind, and then you will find yourself automatically following all the ethics of discussion.

So altogether now:

“I swear that I am going to enter into a sincere and honest discussion to try and reach the truth, whatever it may be. I may be right, I may be wrong- but I will never be right until I honestly admit that I may be wrong”

Btw, don’t be surprised if you have to change friends, leave your family, move to a different country… people have done all this when they have changed their views to what they believe is right (whether these be political or religious views).

Oh, and please keep an open mind when you listen to my views and I promise the same to you, starting with:

All that I wrote above may be wrong

3 Comments on “My First Blog”

  1. Yusr April 1, 2010 at 6:05 am #

    “Do not try to find the truth. Merely cease to cherish opinions.”Hubert Benoit

    Thank you for this blog post. Keeping in mind that we tend to ‘inherit‘ our
    primary world views, belief systems and political affiliations, tolerance is admittedly difficult to cultivate. Coming to terms with the fact that many of our thoughts are not our own but are self replicating ideas passed on from mind to mind may help loosen our grip on ideas and views we deem to be integral to our identities and our sense of who we are. Surely a realisation of this would mean that we are obligated to make a concerted effort to keep open minds and hearts that are receptive and accommodating to fresh ideas and alternative perspectives and truths that will in turn help shape and develop more wholesome identities.

    It’s inspiring to see the collaboration of this forum’s members and the steps taken towards stirring a shift in British Iraqi attitudes. Hope to see broad participation of British Iraqis from diverse backgrounds.

    Kind Regards

    P.s.It’s worth looking up the concept of Memes (in relation to the transmission of ideas)

    • Haady Mohammed April 30, 2010 at 10:42 am #

      Thank you Yusr – some very useful comments you have made and thank you for your kind words.

      Just to add a little more, practically speaking, I also find the most useful way to have a meaningful discussion/debate and make each appreciate the other’s standpoint is to reverse the roles: If I argue A, and you argue B, then why do we not reverse the roles and you argue A, and I argue B. In this way, I will step into your shoes and am forced to look into and try and understand your reasoning, and I would do everything to defend your view- whether this includes carrying out research, asking me for advice, reading the opinions and articles you usually avoid..etc – and you would do the same for me.

      To apply this even in situations where one finds the other person’s arguments to be weak, one develops a holistic understand is better-placed to discuss having a better understanding of both perspectives.

  2. anon April 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm #

    Dear Haady

    I appreciate that life is busy for you at the moment-but please try and take a few minutes out of your day to inspire us with a new blog!

    Regards

    N.

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