Think For Yourself

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“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” Buddha

Not too long ago I was in a conversation of which the two of us did not agree. It started to become an intense conversation, and I knew neither of us were going to “win” the argument. I’m not sure it was even an argument. It was simply two people at odds over beliefs. It strikes me how intensely people want to be right, whatever the right may be. It is true in any argument or disagreement, particularly religion, politics, and the raising of children.

I tend to believe in the Buddha quote above. Though I may, secretly, wish that people would follow my line of reasoning, I respect their right to their beliefs. I do not think I am more right then they are. We are just different. That could probably be said for politics too. The raising of children is a bit more difficult as it is one of my greatest weaknesses, but I tell myself that parent’s have the right to raise their children as they see fit. Within reason, of course. No matter what, with any of the above, I believe we are a free society and that gives us the right to think as we please.

I have never wanted anyone to be like me, not even my children. I want them to think as they see fit, not because of what I tell them. I want them to find their own answers, regardless if they differ from mine. It is a part of growing, of finding their way. I embrace their differences. They are my children and I have given them a foundation. They may choose to rebuild this foundation, as I chose to rebuild mine. This doesn’t mean that my foundation was wrong, or the one I tried to build for them is wrong, but it means that we each have to find our own way.

For the most part, I am easy-going. I will hear you out, but I will, more than likely, investigate it if it is not something I am familiar with or differs from what I know. I will look at all the sides of a belief and draw my opinion from there. People are not always like this. I know I have plenty of people in my life with whom you can not argue with, much less discuss a topic that differs from their way of thinking. I may embrace our differences but this does not mean I am going to adopt the other’s point of view.

When I am of one mind, and they of another, I am often asked to prove why I believe one way(translated not their way). I can’t always prove why. Most often it is because of research I have done in my lifetime and it is not just one thing that makes up my belief. I hate bringing up a reason, because I can’t always list specifics. I don’t want to get into why I believe in those particular views or how I adopted them to become my way of thinking. I may not even have adopted their whole belief, just part of it.

Sometimes it is easy for me to listen. Other times it is not. If I know and trust someone, I have an easier time actively listening. Of course, there are people with whom I’ve discussed various matters and there is a barrier up because I know that they are not open. That they are beyond convicted and my point of view would not matter. That I would not be accepted for my point of view. I have a harder time with that then with anyone who has a different belief, but is accepting of me. Those people I can actually draw in what they are saying.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all accepting. There are times when I felt someone else’s view may be damaging to my children and I have barred them. Those are times I have struggled with what I believe of acceptance. It hasn’t happened very often, but it has happened. Perhaps I should be proud of those moments, but I am not. My children have learned that people have different views and have come to me to discuss it. I try to remain as neutral as I possibly can. I try to provoke understanding, and encourage them to think it for themselves. Not an easy job.

On one level, I’m sure we all want to be right. Listening to another’s point of view, or convictions can be difficult if they are not your own. You may want to burst out and argue your point, but not every discussion calls for that. Pick and choose your words carefully, regardless if they do. You may learn something, you may not. Remember, you get to decide what to keep and what to discard. This is the freedom we have as human beings. Not all of us, unfortunately, have this luxury in this world. Keep that in mind.

Of course, you don’t have to believe me.

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