Might does NOT make right, but kindness sure does. Not sure if you agree? I hope you’ll read on as I disseminate some interesting information from an article a friend shared on Facebook a few weeks ago.
The article, “Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds,” by James Clear doesn’t sound like it’s about kindness at all. With headings like “the logic of false beliefs” and “why false ideas persist” I wasn’t sure if I should risk reading it. Would it be another bit of propaganda that made my mood sour and my anxiety rise?
But the person who shared it tends to have a great sense of judgment, so I decided to risk it. I knew I’d chosen correctly when I came to the section “Facts Don’t Change Our Minds. Friendship Does.” It makes me smile even now as I consider that the only reason I read the article in the first place is because of the respect and friendship of the person who shared it.
It’s the final —and sadly shortest—section of the article that inspired me to write this post.
To argue, and win, is to break down the reality of the person you are arguing against. It is painful to lose your reality, so be kind, even if you are right. – Haruki Marakami
What is the goal of an argument? In my experience, it is not to convert someone to your perspective. Most arguments are too heated for that. What’s worse, they involve one-way communication. It isn’t because both parties don’t get to state their beliefs, but neither one is listening to the other side. You can’t change someone’s mind if they aren’t listening to your arguments.
On the other hand, the goal of connecting with the other side invites collaboration rather than argument. We know our opinions are different, but we want to understand why they hold their view. Not because it will change our mind (although it might if we’re open to that) but because we want to integrate diversity into our tribe.
Integration doesn’t mean assimilation (to be or become absorbed; to conform or adjust to the customs, attitudes, etc., of a group). It doesn’t necessitate changing either side. It is “adding to” the special sauce of culture to make it even better.
“We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”
If you watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, you know about this alien species that went about destroying civilizations and collecting their knowledge and technology into the Borg database. Individuals gave up their individuality and became part of The Collective. Individuality was the enemy, not because the Borg didn’t value the contributions of individuals, but because diverse perspectives interfered with their mission of domination.
And there was no reasoning with them. They were deaf to any plea or argument. How many of us act the same way? We come up against a different worldview than ours so we attempt to destroy it. Sadly, we aren’t even interested in integrating the parts of it that might make us stronger, more circumspect.
We have our “right view” (this is in quotation marks because it might not be accurate or truthful or correct in the least, but it is our perspective and we refuse to let go of it). As long as we consider our opinion more important than another person’s right to their opposing view, division supplants friendship. We won’t be able to connect with other people if they feel judged and labeled to be somehow inferior.
Too often, we get caught up in winning the argument rather than connecting with another person. We’re more interested in having our views heard and accepted than truly listening to what someone else has to say.
If we value connection over correctness does that mean we’re compromising?
I don’t think so. I believe that kindness is always the right choice. We don’t have to agree with someone to treat them with respect.
Do we have to respect someone to be kind to them? I say no, but from the vitriol I’ve witnessed on social media and even at family gatherings, I think many people disagree. Or they don’t understand that being respectful to someone is symptomatic of kindness.
Kind makes right. What do I mean by that? At the end of the day, you have to answer to you. Will you feel better if you’ve “put someone in their place”? What if being right has cost you an important relationship? That feels all kinds of wrong. I know. I’ve been at both ends of that situation.
You will never be wrong showing kindness. Your correctness may never be acknowledged by someone, but that isn’t an excuse to treat them poorly.
Do right. Do right. Do right. It is never wrong to do right. – Dudley Do-Right
What do you think? Is it important to you to be kind first and be right later? Does someone have to agree with you for you to like, respect or choose to interact with them?
(After writing this post on July 7, I started to see other posts on this topic. Check out this one that had me feeling chagrined on the Incourage site. If you want to grin, at least check out the cartoon on this post, but it will only take five minutes to read the entire thing.)