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