The Sound of a Fire: If Everybody is Shouting, Who is Listening?
Americans Win the Award for Confidence!
Imagine two children in a shouting match. One yells, "The sky is orange!" as the other quickly responds, "No, the sky is blue!" They keep the tennis match of yelling going, each time trying to yell louder than the other. Eventually, one of the teenagers gets tired--his voice is scratchy and sore. He turns around and walks home, still believing the sky is orange despite the fact that the other could yell louder. The second teenager believes he's won the "match" because he yelled the loudest for the longest. Perhaps he won the shouting match, but did he win the other's respect? Perhaps the other heard his shouts, but did he actually listen? Was the other impacted? Challenged to a higher perspective? We could look at this scenario and probably easily conclude, "That was pointless." Yet how many of us live in some sort of "tennis match" on a regular basis? How many of us think that if we just keep saying something--louder and with more force--that we will eventually get heard? And by the way, sometimes the sky looks orange and sometimes it looks blue.
Sometimes the "noise" that surround me just gets to be too much. It's like I'm caught in a whirlwind of chaos and all around me are angry people shouting things they don't understand and making judgments that are not theirs to make. I once heard somebody say that America has fallen behind in just about every area when it comes to test scores but there is one area in which Americans shine brightly—confidence. Everybody has an opinion and that's great. And I am all for freedom of speech and authentic self-expression. But when did everyone's opinion somehow become fact and absolute truth? What makes people feel SO extremely qualified to claim that their perspective is the only perspective and if you don't agree, you're exclusive and self-righteous? More than a few of the people I've seen thus far with strong opinions don't seem to have very much validity or reliability to substantiate their claims. They've watched one Discovery Channel documentary too many and have yet to pick up a book and actually research what it is they so firmly believe in. And if they do include facts, they pick and choose only those that support their case. This type of arrogance is blinding them from even considering anything other than what they are already predetermined to believe. When did the search for truth get hijacked by the search for only that which will support what one is going to believe anyway? I'm not against diversity of thought and opinions, but I am finding it quite frustrating to run into "Listen to me I know everything and you know nothing" personas shouting at every street corner.
Fact: All Cars are Hondas
Let me state a disclaimer here. I do believe there is such thing as absolute truth. And therefore, logic says that if there is truth, there is also non-truth. Reality is reality no matter what we say and I believe that eventually we will all find out how solid the foundation is that we've decided to stand upon. I just don't think that every person out there has access to 100% of what truth actually looks like at all times, for every person, in every circumstance. We all know bits and pieces—some know more than others. And people's experiences may be "true" but that doesn't make their reaction to their experiences or the conclusions they've drawn "the truth." Is there not any room for "I don't know" and "Let me think about that"? Why can't we agree to disagree about issues and stop slamming the person behind the issue? If I grew up in a small town where everybody drove a Honda, that would not mean that Hondas are the only car to exist in the world. We could learn a lot from each other if we would just stop talking and being so defensive and actually listen to one another with openness and a teachable spirit. Even if you and I don't agree, I could learn more about why I believe what I believe by listening to and taking seriously the questions that you have or the comments that you make. Again, I don't believe that truth is relative--that statement just seems contradictory to me. I just think people are way too fast to define what is "black and white." Perhaps too much gray is just too uncomfortable of a tension with which for some to live.
And one more disclaimer—I am not anti-American. Not all Americans are overly-confident and not all Americans are egotistical and narrow-minded. I happen to know many who are not. I am simply stating a generalization based on trends and themes I've observed recently. You can of course feel free to disagree and I promise I won't hate you for it.
I Can't Ignore the Smoke Alarm
The truth is—this topic just triggers an experience of anger for me. Anger is like a tool. It can be used for constructive or destructive purposes. When anger blindly judges everyone around it, it's like an out-of-control hammer just bashing in every head that decides to pop up into view. But there is a good kind of anger—the anger that says, "This is not right and there is something wrong." This kind of anger is like a smoke alarm. It warns of fire—of impending danger. I'll admit—I can feel a little bit like a hammer at times, but I repent for any desires to smash and am doing all I can to be a smoke alarm. Do you hear what I hear piercing in your ear?