Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Learning Different Points of View & The Courage To Be Informed

The following is from pages 149-150 of the book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, section 61 titled: Read Articles and Books with Entirely Different Points of View from Your Own and Try to Learn Something:

Have you ever noticed that practically everything justifies and reinforces your own opinions and views on life? The same is true with our radio and television listening and viewing choices as well. In fact, on America’s most popular radio talk show, callers often identify themselves as “ditto heads,” meaning “I already agree with everything you say. Tell me more.” Liberals, conservatives–we’re all the same. We form opinions and then spend our entire lifetimes validating what we believe to be true. This rigidity is sad, because there is so much we can learn from points of view that are different from our own. It’s also sad because the stubbornness it takes to keep our heart and mind closed to everything other than our own point of view creates a great deal of inner stress. A closed mind is always fighting to keep everything else at arm’s length.

We forget that we’re all equally convinced that our way of looking at the world is the only correct way. We forget that two people who disagree with one another can often use the identical examples to prove their own point of view–and both sides can be articulate and convincing.

Knowing this, we can either buckle down and get even more stubborn–or we can lighten up and try to learn something new! For just a few minutes a day–whatever your slant of life–try make a gentle effort to read articles and/or books with different points of view. You don’t need to change for core beliefs or your deepest held positions. All you’re doing is expanding your mind and opening your hear to new ideas. This new openness will reduce the stress it takes to keep other point of view away. In addition to being very interesting, this practice helps you see the innocence in others as well as helping you become more patient. You’ll begin to sense the logic in other points of view. My wife and subscribe to both the most conservative as well as the most liberal newsletters in America. I’d say that both have broadened our perspective on life.

[End Quote]

What a refreshing perspective. I find that most True Believing Mormons are lacking in this openness, for how many of them have truly taken the time to understand the exmormon and why they no longer believe in Mormonism? Instead, most Mormons just call every book, article, or presentation (that the exmormon might offer to better understand his or her point view) a bunch of anti-Mormons lies. They say this without ever checking the footnotes of the book for example, and seeing if what is written is true or not. They reject trying to understand because they are trained by their religion not to try and understand. Before I chose to to resign from the Mormon Church I read both sides of the Mormon debate, reading LDS apologetics and the critics before I reached my verdict just as a jury does. Unfortunately most rank and file Mormons will not to do the same.


Unless you study both sides you are left uninformed or worse yet misinformed holding a heavy bias. Until you studiously look over both sides and come to a fair and balanced perspective you will miss many truths and become blinded by bias. For some people the world revolves around them, and so the truth is wrapped up in what they want to believe and what makes them feel good.

Some people are not interested in objective truth; they are only interested in being right. Truth is void of opinions and traditions. Truth is not an interpretation or subjective experience that’s not applicable objectively and universally. A good question to ask yourself at all times is, “if I received information that proved a point of view of mine false, would I be committed enough to the objective truth, and free from bias, enough to change my opinion?" In other words, would you change your point of view if it were proven false?

Two reasons I have often been given for someone limiting their perspective and retaining their bias by not reading and studying other points of view are:

• "I don’t have time like you do." This translates to: "the truth is not my priority."

• "I’m not interested in rigorous study of alternative points of view for I just want to be comfortable." This translates to: I don’t want to think about anything that threatens my preconceived notions, for that scares me.

In the end it all comes down to having the courage to doubt what you've been told by your parents and society all your life. Maybe, after you doubt what you were told, you will still believe. Then you will know that you believe because you tested it with the criteria of truth.

“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.” ~ Rene Descartes

“If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it--the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.” ~ The Ethics of Belief, by W. K. Clifford.

"It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people." ~ Giordano Bruno

The choice is yours to be scared and uninformed or courageous and informed.

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