Its the one personality trait, even above honesty, that will grate the inner linings of my soul. I know, right about now you are probably thinking that I am going to go the anti-religion route. Soooooo not the case. I do want to tell you that I’ve been guilty of being sanctimonious. Making a show of being morally superior to other people is in our DNA. Ok, I don’t have proof positive but I am certain its in every comedian. We feel better about ourselves when we can find faults in others. Why this whole article is sanctimonious. I’m trying to tell you that the one thing that defines a “good person” is if they accept people and their beliefs they way they are but more specifically, at least have an open mind and no blinders on.
Maybe I am going a little Rodney King here when I tell you we should get along and accept personality traits from every human being. I have so many faults, enough to let you borrow, or even have, and STILL have a surplus. It’s been my experience that those who boast that they have an open mind are the ones in reality that really do not. Going into every discussion or argument with “THE WAY I THINK IS RIGHT AND YOU’RE WRONG” will pretty much get you to the same place where you started. To degrade a person’s ideas, or that its not even open for discussion, is truly taxing on a person’s attitude and their outlook on life. Those that overcome it generally will make the conclusion that they actually put to thought ideas or beliefs outside of their comfort zone. While they didn’t convert, they did implement an idea that would harbor understanding of the entire issue. This allows them to stay close to their morals or belief core while expanding and strengthening their own values.
I had a roommate that was like this. He and I are on the polar opposite side of the spectrum when it comes to politics. I felt one way, he felt the other. What I always appreciated was the fact that no matter how I felt about a certain issue, he would actually listen instead of making me feel like I was stupid for my ideology. That, in turn, allowed me to keep my blinders off and actually learn something. While a majority of what we discussed didn’t change my mind, there were instances of when I realized I hadn’t thought of it that way. No doubt my friend felt the same way about where I stood. Those were some of the best conversations I had. I thank him for it.
Now on to religion. Why can’t we realize that it’s different strokes for different folks? Why do we use fear or condemn another just because they believe another way? Why do we have to have groups of people that protest funerals, the very time where compassion should be at a paramount? Why can’t we just realize what works for us is what works for us. Share your beliefs instead of pounding it into others ears that they are completely wrong. Be an example. Show compassion. Isn’t the core of religion anyway? (at this point of this blog post, you’re really thinking how is he going to get out of this one without sounding sanctimonious. Aren’t ya? Well, its ok. You can rest assured that I don’t think I am any better than you. Swear. Pinky swear. That’s a personal conversation and not a blog post.)
Here’s something that has worked for me, use it if you like, don’t if you don’t. It actually helped me and was part of me overcoming my pigheadedness and it has taken plenty of stress from my life. At some point in a conversation that you realize its not going anywhere, “One up” the person you’re debating with. One up? Yes. “One up.” Here’s what I’m talking about. In the meat of your argument/heated discussion, drop that wall of pride you take with you into battle and simply say “…hummm, that’s an interesting way to think about it. I suppose I can see how it would make you feel that way.” It doesn’t matter if you’re debating over the color of oranges or Health Care Reform or that dreaded differences of religion discussion. Its not saying that you agree, its not saying that the person is wrong. Its mainly telling them that you’re the one with an open mind. It’ll also eventually break down the wall the person had built to keep their fight strong.
All in all, why does it matter what people think anyway? Why are we all so hell-bent on changing peoples mind. Obviously, if its a matter of hate or an idea that would harm another human then yes! Fight like hell for your beliefs. But I’m telling you that the hippy down in break room or the right-wing suit that hangs out by your desk isn’t going to change your mind by a few simple words. It’ll tell that person that having a willingness to listen can’t be all that bad.
Do you know someone like this? How do you deal with that situation? Have you EVER won over a polar-opposite-of-your-beliefs conversation? Any other good ideas when dealing with the person that’s…ummm…sanctimonious?
Rock forth, Mitch
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