The art of politely disagreeing with someone and ……taking on board criticism as a positive process.
Aristotle said; ‘The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.’
There is a profound wisdom in the above quote. The more educated, qualified and successful we become the more arrogant and set we tend to become in our beliefs that we know everything, that our opinion is right and nothing at all can change it. If someone puts forth a differing opinion we smirk at it, we discount it, but we don’t step back even for a moment to think, yes maybe this could make sense. Whereas, I feel if we were truly enlightened we would actually accept that the more we learn, the more there is still to learn.
That learning can come from anywhere. That learning can come from a source we consider inferior or beneath us.
There is a trend in social media interactions that a point of view is debated vociferously and even rudely when we don’t see eye to eye (no, not Tahir shah’s version).
Normally, when an original post is shared on social media, a barrage of varying viewpoints are thrown at it. I am all for the opinion that if we disagree with a certain opinion we word it in a polite manner putting our argument across so that it adds to the discussion and doesn’t become an angry personal spat. After all, the writer has the right to post the opinion whether we agree with it or not.
At the same time, if we consider ourselves serious bloggers then the responsibility of managing a discussion falls a little more on our shoulders than the people commenting. Each opinion on an original post should merit respect from the writer unless the writer is just looking for self-validation. After all, the post is meant for an audience and should be designed to spur a dialogue, it is not a royal statement issued to the masses expecting them to nod their heads in agreement. Each negative or positive opinion garnered (provided it falls in the category of polite discourse) could be taken as an engagement on the post, not as an affront to the intellect of the writer.
The problem is, when you do take out time to actually comment on a post there are economies of scale in operation, it is taking you away from many other worthwhile posts you could have learnt from as well. If your opinion is then treated as it doesn’t make an iota of difference to the life and times of the magical author, it does feel like a let-down. You want those ten minutes of your life back.
With true wisdom comes humility that maybe, just maybe we might have said/written something wrong and this goes both for the commenters and the writers. I feel we, as Pakistanis, severely lack the ability to apologise. We hate saying sorry. We will fight to death with our swords out but we will not back down from an argument.
I am writing a fiction series at the moment and whenever someone comments on it, saying it’s great etc. I always ask them did you find anything wrong with it or anything you think should change. This is not because I don’t have confidence in my ability to craft a story or my skill as a writer but because I value their feedback. It feels great if someone actually takes the time to point out my flaws. They are taking their precious time to analyse something I have written and I always consider it a huge compliment.
I have noticed, over the years that I am too humble. I accept that I might be wrong a bit too easily but in my opinion that is not my weakness or inability to stand my ground but a readiness to learn from a different perspective than mine. Even if I feel I am right, and I engage with a differing opinion in a dialogue it teaches me something new. A new perspective of looking at my set view point.
On the other hand, if I put my viewpoint in a glass jar for display, guarding it carefully so no one can shatter it, I am in terrible danger of it rotting away eventually.
Image credit: Taken form google, not my image.