It wasn’t long ago we had a “Dad talk” about people and intelligence and judgment. I don’t remember the specifics but the theme was important enough for me to make a post. It’s a concept I hope my children take with them to adulthood and one I wish more adults understood.
It’s easy to be critical of “dumb people” but in reality, there are no dumb people. There are people with different knowledge than we have. And when discussing that thing they know, they may very well see us as less smart than they are, maybe even dumb…
So the conversation evolved to one of acceptance and understanding and opportunity. The opportunity part was the cognitive stretch. So how is an interaction with others an opportunity?
Some time later, my wife was recounting a comment made by our good friend and horse trainer Ronnie Ford. Now Ronnie’s a proper cowboy so you gotta read this with the appropriate cowboy wisdom tone and drawl.
Well that’s kinda what I was saying but it takes it one step further. You see people are the same. If everyone we encounter knows something we don’t know, then every encounter is an opportunity to learn something we don’t know. Are we busy talking or do we pause to listen? Do we ask questions about the person? Do we know what’s going on in their world? Opportunity to learn…about them, about what they’ve been through, or about what they know.
Have you ever met a tradesman with no formal education either in the trade or in the traditional sense of schooling? One who was passionate about the trade? One who stole your focus and attention while you watched and learned? It is inspiring when you start to see people this way. I know it’s when I feel envy the strongest…the glimmer of passion and the perfection of skills. What an empowering feeling it must be. In a different circle this person might be considered dumb while a genius in their trade. It’s a matter of perception and situation.
I believe every person is a genius in some space of their lives. Some may never take the opportunity to find their genius, but we all have it.
Is that it? The whole idea? Do we just need to shut up and listen? Do we just need to ask enough questions to identify what everyone has to offer and then learn it ourselves? No, that’s not it.
You see the opportunity goes both ways. We have an opportunity to learn but we also have an opportunity to teach. To share what we’ve learned. To share about ourselves. It’s an opportunity to strengthen bonds between us…or even repair broken relationships.
In the world today as I write this, it seems you cannot look at social media or watch tv without hearing controversial topics. Angry people around us everywhere. It seems half the people feel the other half is stupid…but the other half feels the same way. By my math that makes 100% of us stupid. It’s mind numbing and exhausting at the same time.
The reality is, no one is stupid. Everyone has a different situation and a different viewpoint and a different goal. We will be faced with differing views often. I might even go as far as saying every interaction will be with someone of differing views. Even when we agree on a topic our limits are different and our views are too…even if only slightly, it’s still different.
So we’re back at the opportunity idea. What if instead of name calling and criticizing, we take the time to
Learn and research? Time to understand all sides of an argument to the best of our ability. I’ve already said I don’t believe we will ever truly agree 100% with anyone on any topic…but we can make the effort to understand the differences and accept that we will never completely agree…even when we mostly do.
One more stretch to consider. Even when we try to understand, and we try to learn, there will still be people who are not open to listening to your side. That’s ok too…we still need to try.
Seeing all sides and taking opportunities to learn makes us better people. It strengthens our beliefs and builds humanity. I don’t have to agree with you to be nice. I would love the opportunity to learn more about you, your background, your genius.
Then, if you’re interested, I would love to teach you what I’ve learned. Maybe you get to know me better and start to understand my views? Maybe we can all take the opportunity to learn from each other and then we all come out just a little bit smarter.