“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”
I often revisit this quote when I’m asked “why can’t you just let it go?” in reference to a conversation about a difficult topic, or worse — with a difficult person.
I can’t let it go because that’s just not who I am. This isn’t meant as an excuse. It’s the beginning of my answer.
One of my core beliefs is that offence is taken — not given. I take responsibility for my own reactions, and I expect that others should do the same. If I don’t expect others to tiptoe around my feelings, I’m definitely not going to tiptoe around theirs. If I hit someone with the straight goods (as I see them), it’s because I refuse to condescend by assuming that they won’t be capable of an adult reaction.
When I’m faced with a disagreement, I put every effort into determining what is right -not who is right. This is something that’s often overlooked by those I converse with. I try to stay calm and on point which, judging from the reactions I get, comes off as arrogant — especially if I don’t sacrifice my intellectual points to someone’s emotional pleas. Even as I say that, it probably sounds arrogant to some of you!
If I see injustice, I’m going to say something. I don’t care if I’m the only one who’s speaking up either. Too often, people use the fear of the spotlight to avoid addressing something that’s difficult to discuss. Maybe I am at least a little arrogant because I don’t have that fear.
I actually like debate. I’m not talking about arguing, I’m talking about people sharing ideas which are in conflict with each other. I see debate as opportunity to learn. I see the world through my eyes only. Hearing ideas I disagree with offers a glimpse of the world through another person’s eyes.
I have a short time on this earth. I want to live my life without the regret of having held my tongue when I had something to say. If I avoid difficult topics or “agree to disagree,” I think that regret is inevitable.
Do you have thoughts on this (or any other) topic? Send me an email, and let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org
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