Monday, December 18, 2006

You don't have to knock someone's brains out

"Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago."
- Horace Mann, American educator (1796–1859)

Poor Horace! He was such a simple dude. Teachers spoke so properly in those days.

Wanting to "knock someone's brains out" is our way of showing ourselves that we have not submitted totally to the power of others. We still have that desire to fight back, to survive despite the impediments that the stupidos who disagree with us tosses our way. It shows that we still have two feet to stand on.

Many disagreements result from differences of opinion because two people reached differing conclusions based on different information. We may assume that everyone has access to the same input of information, but that is seldom the case. Thus their conclusions will often be different.

Let's say that all possible information on which a person could base an opinion consisted of five facts. If one person knows three and another the other two, with no overlap, the possibility of the two agreeing on a conclusion is slim.

If one of those people knows three facts and the other knows two (one of which overlaps with one the first person knows), the odds of agreement over a conclusion improve, but are still low.

If each of the two people knows the same three facts, the likelihood of their agreeing on a conclusion or course of action is much greater. However, one of the missing pieces of information might be the clincher that makes the agreed conclusion wrong. Political parties often use this form of persuasion to gain supporters--omit what doesn't support your party's platform.

When there are five facts about a situation and two people both know all five, the likelihood of their agreeing on a course of action is huge. Unless there is an ethical problem involved, which happens seldom in general disagreements.

Most of the time that two people disagree it's because they have different information on which they based their conclusions. In the cases of politics or religion, a seldom revealed factor could be the brainwashing or severe propagandizing of one or both of the parties.

In my personal life, I have discussed several religions in depth with respective followers of those religions. The conclusion I have reached is that all religions aim for the same goals and objectives, they just take different routes to get there.

The same has applied with discussions about politics, though how a person votes who votes according to party lines often is the same as their parents and grandparents voted before them. Families tend to follow voting patterns where they all have similar input of information from the same source.

Where the real problem arises with difference of opinion is where one person won't discuss the reasons why they believe what they do. The explanation there is that they don't feel confident enough about their reasons to be able to defend what they believe. But they believe it anyway and don't want to have input from anyone else for the purpose of changing their minds.

In such cases, only severe reprogramming will release the minds of those people from their beliefs. That is very expensive and seldom worth the investment unless the victim with a twisted mind is a child who has been propagandized by a religious cult.

A person who refuses to discuss the facts or evidence of a belief is someone whose mind is closed, someone with whom you will never get close. The person's insecurity will not allow them to relax enough to get close to anyone.

It's a slow process to gradually change that person's mind about a particular belief. Evidence that the person had not considered must be presented over a long period of time and must come out slowly as part of other discussions. It could take years.

People can change, even ones with extreme opinions. It takes time and devotion by someone who cares. Or often just time alone will do it as the person learns more facts from his or her own experiences. But a long time.

Knocking out another person's brains seldom has a poisitive effect. And it's messy.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to show paths through difficult situations.
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