How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with a common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their virile indifference! You would begin to be interested in them, because they were not interested in you. You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theater in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers. G.K Chesterton
Ran across this quote while reading G.K Chesterton’s book “Orthodoxy”. The words pleased me and brought me to pause as I thought about how important this really is. Exercising the power of observation without assuming the knowledge of their story based on our own. So often we, myself included, assume certain things about certain people based on outward and shallow appearances.
Chesterton suggests we are missing out on a great deal of freedom by doing this, which is backwards to the way we often think about it. Here I would like to change the topic slightly from merely observing people to having conversations with people. Honest and true conversations are so crucial right now while so much hate is being exchanged. The hate saddens me, have we forgotten how to have a conversation?
A conversation is for two not one, if one insists on speaking for the other the conversation disappears, he might as well be talking to himself. If both people are not curious as to who the other person is the conversation is empty and pointless. Persuasion is an art borne of love and should not be a duty driven by selfishness, it should always start from a clean slate. Humans are complicated, they take time to figure out, you can’t type people into your google search engine and be satisfied. People benefit from an unnatural conversation as much as they benefit from a blind date with high expectations. Rarely is any good done.
Disagreement is bound to happen, but since when is disagreement such a terrible hateful part of conversation? Many of my good friends I completely disagree with in all areas of life, but our conversations are great! Everyone has a right to have reasons they think they are right and to come to their own conclusions. Exclusive beliefs are unavoidable but hatred is an immature response, it is how my three year old responds to an issue, he screams and yells and stomps his feet, unwilling to listen or reason with me.
We have to “become smaller” in the world of conversation without minimizing or belittling our deep rooted convictions, especially if our convictions are true!