Last night, Twitter raised something interesting that I’d like to pick up and continue this morning. How do you raise a taboo topic without insulting anyone, being accused of using offensive language or not being politically correct enough? Crikey, there’s a lot in that. Genuine discussion is what the essence of this is about, and I think is something we can get easily swayed on.
I remember a saying that goes “seek first to understand, then to be understood”. And I think that’s what the important thing is to do. Too often so do we see people happy to just be understood, without taking the time to understand the situation first.
The consequences of the latter approach is clear, and we see it everyday. We get annoyed because we have half a story, we make assumptions about the rest, we believe we’re right, and then we form an opinion and a belief. Sometimes things get said. Sometimes things fester. Sometimes people are rude. Sometimes you just don’t talk to others.
For me, now, I often start at a point of empathy. If I don’t understand and take the time to appreciate what you’re saying, how can I form an opinion on it? I learned some hard rules about assumptions I carried with me until I started work proper. And my biggest learning was that I had very little basis on which my assumptions were based.
But, I recognise that not everyone wants to do this, has the time to, or is able to. Which is where I think education helps. From those that know, and from those that understand something well enough that they can inform others objectively.
Topics like obesity, immigration, politics, sexual health, rape, and myriad others, are all very interesting and deserve a lot of attention. There are those who do this genuinely, and they should be applauded. However, I think we’re also guilty of relying on media sources to give us our opinions. That’s nothing new, but as a people we’re quite lazy, and are happy for someone else to do the digging while we get on with our busy lives.
So, this is just a collection of thoughts really, nothing quite coherent, except this. If you come across a topic that you are ignorant about, take the time to understand it as fully as you can. Only then can you help yourself, and help others.