I had a very busy week last week. I should have done the second part of my post “Tuesday — T-shirt and Ageing” last week. I will come back to it. But let’s do this one first.
If allowed, pride will ruin the best of us.
The more we pursue knowledge, the more deliberate care we must take to keep humble. For there is a calibre of pride that threatens those who go-for knowledge. You know what I mean: The ‘air’ of superiority; the obvious impatience; the condescending mannerism, the subtle disdain that show up when engaging people in discussions, debates, or arguments.
If knowledge doesn’t sober you, you aren’t mastering it, you are merely accumulating it. Knowledge is safe only as a servant. Make it your driver and you’ll self-destruct — sooner or later; but surely.
Pride is most evident, with regards to knowledge, in THE WAY we engage/disagree with people when we think we hold a superior position on an issue.
You can disagree graciously while remaining unflinching in your position. There’s a way to do it. Expectedly, the cultivation of this ‘way’ (attitude) is far more difficult than mere collocation of facts and information.
With google search, anyone may pass as omniscient these days. But it takes practiced inner discipline and refinement to hold superior knowledge (real or assumed) yet remain dispositionally courteous and relationally respectful.
When we hold knowledge in pride, we undermine knowledge. When we hold knowledge in pride, we permit people, more, we empower them to disdain (our) knowledge. Because, the ‘way’ we communicate determines people’s receptiveness to what we communicate.
It is offensive, justifiably so, to be proud because of WHAT you know or in HOW you communicate it. People ‘turn off’ from you, if you are proud, no matter what knowledge you’ve got to transmit. That’s why knowledge, truly acquired, should sober its bearer.
When you engage:
Learn to disagree with views without disrespecting the holder.
Endeavour to affirm points of agreement, while noting points of dissent.
Try to respond to expressed views without making personal statements about the one holding the views.
Be dispassionate. Let the substance of your point do ‘the job’.
Don’t be quick to label people because of the view they hold, unless you’re sure they self-identify with the label, or unless such label is vital in making your point.
Again, always always concentrate on the issues, not on dissenters. Always.
The goal when we engage in conversations, debates and/or arguments is not to ‘bash’ people, neither is it just to win a contest. The goal is not to establish intellectual superiority. ‘Goal is to enhance (mutual) understanding. The goal is to test the logical/contextual rigorousness and veracity of our view(s). The goal is to challenge people’s thinking; and ultimately, to possibly win people. People!
Make it hard for readers/respondents to legitimately dislike you, even when they don’t like your view(s).
Don’t be disagreeable in disagreement.
I am still learning these lessons. I mean I am still trying to internalize them, deliberately practicing them.
In a world of ideas-explosion, what are other ways to engage civilly while firmly holding and presenting our views?