“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing and that is that I know nothing”-Socrates
Have you ever been in a discussion with someone where they always have something to prove? Where no matter what you say or do to close the conversation out amicably, they just have to get the last word in? Where they go on listing all the ways you are incorrect while blissfully unaware of their own obtuseness? Maybe the better question is, who here has this not happened to?
Or perhaps you are that person who just can’t let go? I know I can sure be! While I like to think I’ve gotten better at checking myself when this urge arises, there are certainly times when I eagerly jump headfirst down the rabbit hole of “trying to win the point.”
At times it is necessary and proper to show someone where and why they are going wrong. The tough part is separating that from an ego that looks to fulfill itself by putting down others. Does your reaction really stem from a noble desire to inform or do insecurities play a role in having to convince that person that you are right and they are wrong?
I would argue in today’s America we are seeing more of the latter at play and it’s contributed greatly to our divisiveness. For societies to advance it is essential that the free exchange of ideas be protected. It is also important to think the best of your fellow man and assume that no matter how big your disagreement is, they are coming from a place of good intentions.
Everyone gets this concept and will say they agree with it, until they hear an opinion they don’t like. Shutdown mode often kicks in and the other person suddenly morphs in to the devil’s spawn or worse, a rube too stupid to know he is being manipulated by one. Their words from that point on don’t matter because in your mind you’ve invalidated them. You are right and they are wrong, discussion over.
This is a sad and stifling way to live. I used to struggle with this and honestly sometimes still do. Thankfully, God has patiently shown me over the years my human ability to be spectacularly wrong and be ok with it. The paradigm fully shifted 180 degrees when I finally realized just how little I know and oh how freeing that was!
Once this concept sunk in I started noticing that conversations became much more authentic and satisfying. As the strong urge to prove my points melted away, the divine spark inside the other person shone more clearly and I felt eager to learn their perspective on things. This doesn’t mean I always agreed with them, but I accepted they could be right about some things and respected them too much to beat them over the head with my views. Truth be told, sometimes I still do but it’s become less frequent.
The Bible mentions the words humble, meek and patience a lot and with good reason. It is impossible to love your fellow man without humbling yourself with the knowledge that there are things they know that you do not and that you are both of equal stature in God’s eyes.
Really, even that awful bully who converses through insult and by shoving highly processed nonsense masquerading as profound thought in your face? Yes, even that guy. And while you may or may not be in the “right” in your discussions with him, a certain level of respect is due for the simple reason that he is a fellow human being, loved, valued and brought in to the world by God.
Any fool can study one area and become an “expert” and thus proclaim to know everything, which imprisons the mind. The wise man however, by opening himself up to things he is unsure about realizes just how little he knows compared to what’s out there.
Worshipping your own intelligence can be just as destructive as any other false idol. Empower yourself and others by embracing the freedom to be wrong.