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Shades of Grey

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Often, when people take a stand, they may decide to pin themselves hard up against a wall and refuse to budge. It can only be their way, and their way allows for no compromise because all other options are wrong.

The more their position is questioned, the more they will barricade, dig deep, defend their position, until one day, the realise they are focused more on the defence on an idea that, at its core, is no longer all that clear to them.

It amazes me, in so many things, people don’t seem to be able to accept that the world isn’t as simple as that. More than one person can be right about something, multiple, even conflicting ideas and concepts, can of themselves be both valid, once understood in context and place.

Our modern day, of mass, high turnover media, has reduced many of our thoughts down to soundbites, short and simple enough to fit into a 140 character tweet. For most things, 140 characters, even fewer words, aren’t sufficient to set a sense of place, let alone form a coherent, complete thought. As our language decreases, so does our ability to think, and for many, the default becomes too simply retweet, repeat, take what on the surface, emotionally, superfluously, seems the best option and repeat, regurgitate.

The amazing thing is, until the age of the internet, the written word was all but considered dead except to the realm of the ‘writer’ – those who wrote books. Potentially even less than thirty years ago, most adults would have been expected to write nearly nothing more, as soon as their formal education ended.

However, as things become easier and easier to ‘share’ the need to create your own content, coherent, individual thought becomes less and less. Trying to express yourself? Just find something close to what you want to say and share it. It’s quicker, gets the job done fairly well, and you can get on with your day. Looking for other things to share to make you sound like you have something to say.

Ultimately, though, all thought is distilled from the total of our experience. It forms us, defines us. Take everything you have done, have had done to you, learnt, forgotten, gained and lost, and that is your story – that is what you have to share.

We don’t read enough anymore. We don’t listen enough. For many, conversation is just about waiting for the opportunity to say our bit. Then we hold on, not really listening, but forming the next sentence in our heads. It is astounding, sometimes, if you really listen to people having a conversation, if you are attentive enough yourself, you can hear it. There is no conversation. Simply two (or more) people taking turns to talk.

There is a way forward, though, a way back to a conversation, to a discussion, to debate. But the way will make a lot of people very uncomfortable.

For a start, you have to come away from the way. You have to accept the very real fact, that you may be wrong. You have to step into the room, be present in the conversation right now and try as hard as you can to completely understand the point of view of the person in front of you. That means listening to and accepting them. Because their argument is ultimately the projection of who they are. If you can’t accept the person, you are never going to accept the argument, and if you can’t accept the argument, you will never be able to assess it and decipher if it is right or wrong, in relevance to your argument and your person.

However, if you do, you might just also come to the understanding that you are both right. And that can be where the disorientation can really start. However, disorientation is good. It provides the opportunity to reorientate in a better direction. Maybe somewhere in the grey that lives between the black and white that so many people like to talk in.

  • thebloke.co.nz
  • thebloke.co.nz

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