Monday, December 10, 2007

Changing Your Mind

I’m sure we have all seen a school yard fight where you could immediately see that one of the fighters knew exactly what they were doing and the other had no idea yet that may not have deterred them from becoming involved. I’m not talking about a bully and their victim, I’m talking about people who love to scrap.

America is a scrappy nation. We have to be considering all the wars we get involved in, and all those prize fighters we’ve glorified over the years. Most movies have some sort of fight scene in them. Whether you grew watching Max Schmeling, or watching Popeye eating spinach and whopping ass, or watching Itchy and Scratchy harming one another on the Simpsons you have grown up with fighting as a core value and touch stone to life in America.

Frankly I’m surprised that dueling, bull, dog and cock fighting is illegal here. It seems all so third worldly, yet Americans dump a bunch of money on Pay Per View and watch people brutally fighting inside a cage.

More genteel people save their fighting for politics or for intellectual banter in the opinion pages and Internet forums. Though this may be a different level of fighting it is still fighting but with a cooler edge.

In a fist fight you throw blows. It’s an instantaneous thing. Sometimes David wins and sometimes Goliath wins. Sometimes they both lose. However with writing you have time to form a response. It is said that there is still a teletype in the White House that is hooked up directly to Russia. There was never a red phone because talk is instant. A teletype allows the other side to ponder a reply and hold a response until one is truly ready.

Yes, I do get involved in Internet brawls from time to time. They are fun as long as you don’t lose your cool. Most of the time one of the fighters just stops replying, but every once in a while someone will actually say, “You know, you’re right, you’ve convinced me.” It may be entertaining to see two people flaming one another, but I am really drawn to a fight where two people are using reason and using it very well, and one is able to convince the other that their way of reasoning may be superior.

It is OK to have one’s mind changed. I think back on all the times I’ve changed my mind over the years. Most often it actually feels good and somewhat cathartic to see things with new eyes. I don’t get upset when people say to me, “But you used to be 100% of the other opinion.” Things change and they change all the time. Think of the millions of people who have changed their minds about George Bush’s approval rating over the last four years. It amazes me that people are able to change their minds.

I had a friend who was a Psychology professor at Temple University. He had his students write a paper about something they felt very strongly in favor of. Their next paper was to argue against their first paper. Oddly, after the second paper most students accepted and embraced their counter arguments more strongly than their previous opinions.

It seems that only when we learn to stop fighting with ourselves can we learn to stop fighting with others. Acceptance and an open mind is the key. However, though I understand this concept, I will admit that I still enjoy an occasional scrap.


Blogger Beth said...

Your post reminded me of this quotation from Stendhal:
"Why should I try to have the same opinion today that I had six weeks ago? That would make me the slave of my own judgment."

12:17 PM  
Blogger wrichards said...

I think dueling politicians should be legal.

Or at least a free "sucker punch".

2:09 PM  
Blogger Mike S said...

I agree about dueling pols, but only one of each pair should be armed. When they're whittled down to only one, send'im here & I'll 'disappear' him permanently with pleasure:)

2:32 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Beth, perfect!

See Walt and Mike, that scrappy stuff is in your blood. Animals!

4:41 PM  
Blogger wrichards said...

Scrapping is a natural behavior, common to all life. Humans have just raised it to a mental level, as well as physical.

8:46 PM  

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