It’s easy to be snarky and dismissive of ideas that don’t align with your own.
It’s easy to preach to the choir, to rally the troops, to shout into an audience of people who already agree with you. To say all the things you know will reinforce their existing beliefs.
It’s easy and it’s often rewarded, with clicks and applause and shares. Because by being dismissive of ideas foreign to our own we’re reinforcing biases: we’re telling someone they’re right and there’s nothing we like better than being right.
Far more difficult is opening ourselves up to ideas that evolved outside familiar ecosystems. Ideas grown within different societies and different cultures. Ideas that are the result of foreign life experiences.
Far more difficult is building bridges between disparate ideas and the people who have them, rather than blasting new chasms and building walls. It’s easy to declare someone wrong. It’s difficult to explain your ideas in such a way that they might listen. Harder still is opening yourself up so that you’re willing to listen to their ideas with an open mind.
It’s easier to find success by doubling down on what you know works: hardening your belief structure and turning up the contrast on your world-view so that the planet is perceived in crisp black-and-white.
It’s more rewarding, though, to embrace the grays and to allow for subtlety. To reach across intellectual barriers and interact with whomever takes your hand.
Because although the shortest route is defined by popular bias, society’s biases are changed over time by those who have the resolve to stand up and say, “Let’s look at the world in this new way, instead.”
It’s easy to wield ideas like permanent markers, frantically thickening the line we draw between ‘us’ and ‘them.’
It’s difficult to find the value in ‘them’ and their ideas, and to present our own ideas so that these ‘others’ feel comfortable thoughtfully considering them.
Update: April 21, 2017
I’ve written about this topic a lot and in a lot of different ways. It’s tough to break out of our own bubbles, though, even if we’re actively trying to do so. There are just so many things we take for granted that bias our thoughts before we even realize we’re having them.
As a result, it’s difficult to get into the right mindspace to actually consider out points of view, and to make your arguments, to state your case, in a way that encourages others to do the same.
It’s valuable, but not easy.