Thursday, February 12, 2009

Communication is Essential!

Rule Two: The Truth-Seeking Principle.

Each participant should be committed to the task of earnestly searching for the truth, or at least the most beneficial solution for those involved. This means that one should be willing to examine alternative positions seriously, look for insights in the positions of the other, and allow the other participant to present arguments for or raise objections to any position raised on the issue (Attacking Faulty Reasoning pg.10).
The truth seeking principle goes hand in hand with the fallibility principle.
Socrates taught; "We come to true knowledge only by first recognizing our own ignorance or lack of knowledge."
We know that the search for truth is a life-long endeavor, and that is certainly true in our eternal relationships. If we really want to find the truth in our relationships concerning the issues that arise, it is imperative not only that we assume that we may not have the truth, (or the "right" answer; the fallacy principle) but that we listen to the other person for alternative positions and encourage questions and clarity about our own positions.

In Jacob 4:10 we are given some good insight to the spirit of this truth-seeking principle. "Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from His hand. For behold ye yourselves know that he counseleth in WISDOM, and in JUSTICE, and in great MERCY, over all his works."

We need to follow Christ's example and seek counsel at the hands of each other in the same fashion; with wisdom, justice and mercy.
As flawed humans we have a tendency to want to possess only those opinions, ideas and ways of doing things that are "right" or "true", but the satisfaction of that interest comes at a price...a willingness to look at all available options, and the arguments that support those other options. If we are not willing to do this, then we might miss the truth completely. The problem is, when we enter into a discussion on an issue, we all want the opinions we hold to be the truth.

Real truth-seekers do not try to win by ignoring or denying the counterevidence against their positions. A genuine win comes from following the rules of the game. Pronouncing yourself the winner before the game has started, or by refusing to play by the rules fails to advance the search for a congenial solution and is, in the end, self defeating.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On my way to class part two

Today I stayed away from the stand of trees (by the way, there are 5 trees in the stand) completely. Instead, I walked on the busy was much safer!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Funny thing on the way to class today.

We woke up to wind and snow this morning, and by the time I went to class, the wind had stopped but these huge snowflakes were falling fast and hard. The route I take from where I park my car to where my class is has some very treacherous places where snow has melted and left little "ice ponds" on the side walk. I was congratulating myself for making it over these ice ponds without falling and came to a stand of about three large pine trees which form this large circle of protection underneath them from the weather. I was glad to see the tree, they always seem so friendly. I reached the center of the circle underneath the trees, where I suddenly stepped on one of those "ice ponds", apparently hidden by a light layer of slick snow that had managed to fall under the trees. Despite the fact that I was wearing winter boots with rubber soles, I fell on my keyster and bruised my ego. But I felt lucky that I hadn't destroyed my computer by landing on it and that no one had seen me. (Turns out that one guy saw me and he then stared at me for a full minute as we walked by each other...take a picture buddy, it will last longer!) On my way back to the car after class, I was now wiser, and I knew that I must not go on the same route under the trees as I did coming to class. As I was passing under the trees to the extreme right, I glanced towards the center to see if I could see the imprint of my body where I had fallen on my... way to class...apparently the ice pond is under the entire circle of the trees...I fell again. UGH!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Communication is Essential!

Rule One: The Fallibility Principle.

“Each participant in a discussion or a disputed issue should be willing to accept the fact that they are fallible. This means that they must acknowledge that their own initial view may not be the best position on the issue (Attacking Faulty Reasoning, pg. 7).”

If you are not willing to accept that you could be wrong you are in effect saying that you are not willing to change your mind, even if you hear a better solution. This is a clear indication that you are not willing to be fair, that you are only interested in winning, or fighting, and there isn’t much point in continuing the discussion. The assumption of mutual fallibility is a crucial first step for those who are genuine in their desire to come to a solution that fits both people involved.
The important point of this rule is that an admission of fallibility is a clear indication that those involved are consciously prepared to listen to the arguments of the other. Just the fact that it is a hard thing for people to honestly admit that their point of view may be wrong, calms the emotions of the issue, and has the ability of opening our ears to different and better solutions.

In Proverbs 13:10 the Lord advises us:
“Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised comes wisdom.”

Given the huge number of issues, and the vast number of different positions on each of those issues, it is more likely that a person would turn out to be wrong on more issues than right. But as the scripture points out, it is only through allowing yourself to be advised that you are open to wisdom. A person full of pride erects a wall which deflects the desire to be advised by the other person on any issue. Someone who truly desires to find a fair, equitable solution will seek to be advised not only from the other person, but most especially from the Lord, thus turning the contention of pride into the wisdom of God.
Arguing from the standpoint that you both could be wrong, but that the Lord does know the right solution, and He is willing to help you discover the solution, opens both of you up to the very high probability of finding an alternate solution built mutually on the ideas expressed by both.
If you are skeptical about how well the fallibility principle works, the next time you are discussing, an issue be the first to admit your own fallibility and that you are willing to make concessions. The other person is more likely to follow with a confession of their own fallibility. If they don’t, then at least you will know the futility of further discussion about the issue.
Proverbs 28:25:
“He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat (or prosperous).”

To become prosperous in the eternal relationships we are building, how much wiser it is to approach the difficulties that arise with humility and the acknowledgment that we, as humans, are flawed. How much wiser it is to discuss the issues, admitting up front that we may not have the best solution and, with the spirit, create the solution together. It is not about winning, it is about arriving at the same place with each other.