By Kenneth Justice
Have you ever met someone who only wants to hear what they want to hear?
I used to think this kind of behavior was mainly relegated to highly religious people who attended borderline cults…….but lately I’m rethinking the subject.
Perhaps I’m wrong but I’ve noticed a trend among a lot of people lately in the Western World in which they are uninterested in hearing anything that disagrees with their world view.
—) They only hang out with like-minded people
—) They only read literature that agrees with their worldview
—) If they are religious, they definitely don’t mingle with people outside of their religious circle
—) They are uninterested in any conversation that might challenge their current views
Hey, I’m not suggesting that we spend our entire lives only listening to people who disagree with us. But I do think it is healthy to engage in conversations with people outside of our little inner circle.
Sure, there are a lot of problems in the world and it may often seem that the problems are so big that there is nothing you or I can do about them; but that is not a good enough excuse to insulate ourselves from other people that we don’t agree with…..it’s not a good enough excuse to insulate ourselves from the ‘outside’.
I’ve spent much of the past week reading the auto-biography of Gandhi and there is a lot to like about the dude; one of the things that stands out the most to me as I read his story is how he intentionally went out of his way to dialogue with other people. He didn’t want to cut himself off from other people and other ideas. He didn’t want to become exclusionary in his thinking.
What compels someone to cut themselves off from new ideas and new perspectives?
I suspect that at the root of the issue is a fundamental uneasiness in their character; they are not confident in who they are as a person, and they therefore are scared of hearing anything that doesn’t immediately concur with their own views.
I also suspect that people who cut themselves off from others also have the potential of developing high levels of arrogance; they think “I am right about everything and therefore don’t need to hear what anyone else says”
Especially troubling to me is the high percentage of young adults I am noticing who appear to be trending toward this exclusionary way of thinking. Young adults have always gravitated toward hanging out with likeminded individuals, but in recent years it seems to me they have taken things a step further in that they have no interest whatsoever to dialogue, listen, or engage with others who have contradictory ideas than their own.
This past week I had a 25 year old tell me “older people deserve no respect for merely being old; they’ve proven to me that they deserve my contempt and I only dish out respect on a person-by-person basis”.
I can see how many young people feel disenfranchised by what the previous generations have done to the world in Europe and the Americas…….but is that any reason to have such a hostile tone in one’s attitude toward older people?
When I meet an older person on the street I show them respect……if of course after meeting them they prove to me they don’t deserve respect than that is another thing….
But ultimately; I was taught to give people the benefit of the doubt.
Isn’t a part of living in a civil society demonstrating respect to our elders?
Unfortunately, many of the youth in the Western World do not have a healthy respect for their elders at all.
When I told the 25 year old that as a parent I’m teaching my children to demonstrate respect to others and especially to older adults, he then responded with quite a bit of vitriol; “Well you can be sure that a couple of your children are going to grow up and not practice that at all!”
Is that what I should expect from my children; that they will grow up with contempt toward older people?
Look, I’m not expecting my children to agree 100% with all my views……if you read my blog I’m sure you can see that I’m pretty laid back about a lot of things.
But I do hope that my children grow up with a level of humility in which they demonstrate respect to older people…..even if they don’t always agree with them.
Is that asking too much?
Wow….I REALLY need another cup of coffee right now!