By Coralie Raia Darsey-Malloy
There are some who refuse to think…they just rearrange their prejudices.–Dr. Robert Anthony
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In our work as group leaders, life coaches and public speakers, some advise against discussing religion, politics and spirituality. We choose to do so and find that it is not the ideas that are offensive. More often than not, it is the tone and presentation that offends. In our interactions, we find people with open hearts and minds discuss most anything. Our approach involves something we call “respectful dialog.” This method allows each side to listen attentively so they can hear differing points of view. It requires understanding and a respect for differences.
Respectful dialog is not about polarization through black/white/right/wrong thinking. It looks for common ground. Even when there does not appear to be any; an acceptance that people have a right to their opinions, choices and lifestyles whether others agree or not. Respectful dialog involves attentive listening, openness and acceptance in the face of differing opinions.
The biggest clue that they are not receptive to another point of view is the tendency to divert attention back to their position. They override, discredit and/or ignore opinions other than their own. We had one person who was bold enough to emphatically state, “I don’t care what the facts are I believe what I think is “right.” That loud clunk is the sound of minds’ closing.
Some reporters in the media follow “trends” rather than verifying facts. Consequently, uninformed participants in social media share it through sources without checking sources or verifying information. When critical thinking is absent, some develop conspiracy theories without hard evidence. Whether the information is visual or hard copy a heavy investment and need to “prove the point” may create a need to misconstrue information. Some use edited snippets to slant information in the desired direction. Sometimes the small fragments of truth are believable enough to sway perceptions.
Basic human rights involve right of choice. At times one cannot control life events but everyone has control over how they respond. In our view…the cause and effect of every thought and action has a ripple or “butterfly” effect. That is why we consistently suggest that every point of view has merit and with that approach, differences do not create discord.
Conflicts develop when communication styles are accusatory attacks with right/wrong judgments and/or condescending demeanors. Who are we to judge? Who makes anyone else the authority in the lives of others? Are we ever really qualified to cast stones? Critical thinkers with open hearts and compassionate sight understand that their views may be erroneous. Perception is not truth and those living within a conditioned existence and rigid beliefs it can be daunting to consider opposing positions.
Loving behaviors towards others does not include judgments, condemnations, superiority, bigotry, pride, control and belittling. Those who keep their heart-minds open show compassion and respect for differences. With love as a core belief, they allow others to create life as they choose without any need to interfere or dictate how or what anyone else is, or is not doing. Perceptions about “truth” are in reality…just that. Perceptions based on teachings passed down by others and eventually integrated as one’s own. Shaping and claiming it to be “truth” is, in many cases conditioned existence where “normal” is whatever one is used to experiencing.
When one is able to explore views and information from a variety of sources, they naturally avoid self-righteousness. Life would be less complicated with a higher emphasis causing harm to none, unity and consensus over diverseness and judgments. The spiritual perspectives we will be offering here are ones based an abiding respect for the opinions of others whether we agree or not. Comments and feedback are always welcome when offered with respectful dialog.