Opinions, Validation and Real Conversation

It seemed that when the United States first started taking serious measures to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic that most of us were filled with brotherly love and the desire to help our fellow man, myself included. We offered to drop supplies off on porches for those that might need help. We reached out to others and in many cases we waved at passers by just to be kind. We smiled more.

Now that we are almost two months in, our patience is running thin. I am no exception. On rainy days I just feel very irritable, even angry. When I check social media, which I do only to feel some connection to others, I see that I am not alone. Lots of people are preaching their opinions and values. You know how it is with opinions, they are like noses, and certain other body parts, we all have one. But now, more than ever, I am finding that people have no tolerance for those that do not embrace the same opinions and values that they hold dear. Social media is more of a soap box than ever. I am ready to go back to when people were just constantly bragging about their kids, grandchildren, their wonderful spouse and their perfect life. I am ready to see other people’s vacation pictures. It is that bad.

Opinions. I have plenty. They are like my child, not perfect, but mine. You like your opinions too. However, if you want to tell me that my opinion is stupid or that I am naive to embrace it, just because it is different than yours, then I really don’t want to talk with you. But why does it have to be this way? Can we not disagree with someone and still respect them as in intelligent and worthy person?

I am longing for meaningful conversations. I like to talk to people that don’t see eye to eye with me. The kind of conversations where we each get to time to share why we believe that way we do and when the conversation ends our friendship doesn’t. Much can be learned from these interactions. Sadly, what I usually find is that it just doesn’t work. Most people don’t want to know what you think or your reasons for your beliefs, they only want one thing, validation. Validation feels good, but if I only converse with those that see things the same way that I do then I never learn anything new and you don’t either. We don’t live in a world where everything is black or white, strictly right or wrong. Even among Christians, the Bible is interpreted differently but does God really want us hating each other over our different point of view?

I am hungry, truly starved, for the kind of conversation where neither one of us have to change our minds or our values as a result of the interchange. Isn’t it enough to just better understand each other and glean some food for thought. If you want me to listen, I will. I promise to respect you and your values, even if they aren’t mine. But I need you to know that I will expect the same in return. If you don’t want to know why I believe the way I do, vote the way I do, or worship the way I do, then don’t expect me to listen to all the the reasons that you believe I am misinformed or simplistic. I have always been pretty good at doing this alone thing and after almost two months of solitude I have decided that I am finished with people that don’t really want meaningful conversations. At the moment I have about as much validation as Walmart has disinfectant products!

As you can tell, I am in particularly foul mood but I still pray you will have a blessed week. Please do what you can to keep yourself and others healthy. Like everything else, this too shall pass.

Thanks to Ettie Fidel, Anna Vander Stel and Nick Cooper for the use of their photographs.

3 Comments

  1. Moving back to Somerset from a liberal stronghold (Lexington) has forced me to expand my ability to respect opinions that disagree with or even provoke me. The only thing I lack tolerance for is opinions established from authority, or held as axioms without much analysis. Such people are rarely interesting to talk to because they can’t explain why they believe certain ideas, much less entertain alternatives long enough to discuss them intelligently. Feel free to hit me up on Facebook sometime if you want to chat.

    Liked by 1 person

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