Look to Understand

Looking for hope and positivity this morning in the light of what happened in Charlottesville, VA yesterday, I searched through TED Talks and found a talk by George Monboit from 2013 on the Rewilding of the World. He stated (I’m paraphrasing) when wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 an ecological change occurred that was unexpected: the deer population was reduced and their behaviors had changed. Because of this, various lifeforms returned : foliage, trees, beavers, ducks, otters, river banks, and bears to name a few. If you want to know more check out the TED Talk for yourself. What I took away from this talk was that humans should step back to see the larger picture of a situation to better understand it. We can look at the whole picture of how an ecological system works with all the animals being an important part of it for that system’s survival. We can also do that for understanding our human made systems. We can understand why people believe what they believe.

The clash yesterday in Virgina happened for many reasons, and I believe one of those reasons being that two opposing forces, two storms, had converged upon each other. Whenever this happens, destruction is left in the wake. There was never going to be a good outcome that day. I don’t think anyone expected the horror that happened. Barring the tragedy of one person being killed and tens of others seriously physically injured, the most likely outcome did happen: neither side was able to convince the other of their point of view.

You will never convince another to believe in your rhetoric; especially when they have their own. It is naive (overly bold) to think you can. The religious, sports fans, iPhone users will not be convinced that any other stance is better than what they hold to be their truth.

We need to step back to understand what makes others hold on to their beliefs. No matter that we think them wrong. They think the same of us. If we ask ourselves “how do I understand” instead of “how do I get them to understand” we will have more meaningful conversations. We will have fewer arguments and fewer clashes of storms.

I hope to have that question more in my mind, because I, too, make the mistake of wanting others to understand me first. That is my resistance towards them and in turn I will be met with their resistance.

When we make the statement “Help me understand what it is you believe” that can calm the storms. That can stay the cars from barreling through crowds. That can allow the others to feel respected and, in hope, reciprocate respect enough to listen to what we believe. Not to change minds but to understand.

Help me understand what you believe.

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