I want to learn a lot of things not for enrichment, to better the world, or just for the sake of learning, but so I can separate the hot air from the cold truth, and the self-inflated discharge from the sincere conversation, and the people behind it – I want to separate them too. One side I’ll put the sincerest, most honest people, who truly enjoy the Deep Conversation for it’s innocent wonder of the truth. On the other side I’ll put the hot air balloon people.
The affects of such a segregation would be disaster-ful of course. Imagine the climate change as all cold truth is uncovered and consolidated on one side, while hot air is spewed from human furnaces on the other. The Good Conversationalists would freeze in plain sight of the land of active volcanoes and boastful Fact-Guessers. Unlike Plato’s Republic, there is nothing to be gained from such an experiment.
But still, I want to learn for myself how full of it some people are, and I’d dedicate my life to fact checking and research just to understand whether or not my friends are sincere, because it matters that much to me. It would be a shame to be driven by such a shallow purpose, though, and I do occupy my thoughts with the more decent and benefit-of-the-doubt taking side. Perhaps they do, after all, know what they are talking about.
Though I find it difficult to understand how the conversation goes through such leaps, as if what we were attempting to unveil – a menial fact, but important to something – were just something used in passing to gain the upper hand in a conversation, to grab the ‘story stick’ over. What is the point in making claims, in even speaking of affairs that are of importance, if they are to be passed over without questioning the source of the opinions, the accuracy of the facts, and the meaning behind such way of thought?
When I talk, I try to be humble, not too opinionated – but at the same time, I know what I know. I have proven certain things to myself through research. I don’t read an article or hear a report and convey it to others – I listen, then read other opinions, then the facts become apparent and I can form my own opinion. Sums of money, the people involved, and their own character behind their fancy speeches are things that cannot be hidden. Intentions are to be understood only through understanding of character. It’s ambiguous, but I think I can tell a bad guy from a good guy, and I think I can read circumstances, with enough research, well enough to form a solid opinion.
But who can really know the truth, so separated from it all? It’s all conversation – we are not involved, so in the end it is as much fun as a game show, or watching the Antique Roadhouse.
Then there are some things that you know are true only to yourself and your own morals, which should not be confused with fact, but often – very, very often – it is. This is a truth in the heart, such as your opinion on gun laws, or gay marriage. The only thing forming these opinions are your own perception of the consequences. I think it would be great to eliminate all guns, but it’s impossible, and people would use knives anyway. I think gay marriage never hurt anyone. But who cares? It never affected me much anyway, as I’m not a gun owner, nor homosexual – but I know that these things are important to people, and so I have a very vague opinion on them, generally rooting for the underdog.
So though I wander off topic a bit, I know that there are things that cannot be ‘hashed out’ in a conversation. Some debates are un-debatable. Explain to a member of the clergy why homosexuality is an acceptable thing in the modern world, where many of his faith’s traditions and commandments are ignored. Explain to a Texas gun owner why them carrying a gun to protect themselves actually puts others in danger. It won’t work, and that’s not because the facts aren’t right in their head – there is no wrong party here, but only differing opinions that contradict each other so strongly that there is no middle ground. It’s either yes to guns and no to homosexuality, or a whole belief system is disgraced.
I’m not ranting for either side here, but only solidifying the example of ambiguous fact-finding. In some cases, you cannot raise facts and call something hot air, because it’s not ignorance, but another paradigm. The problem exists there because there are no facts to prove that one side is correct. Maybe statistics and speculation, but very often nothing behind it but a morally dumbfounding feeling in the heart that dictates our opinions.
Can I really hope to sift through that rubbish? If I hope to ever know if people are truly sincere with their conversation – that they are really having the Good Conversation and searching for truth and common ground – I have to know the difference between the paradigm and the facts that stabilize it in the acting world.
To understand people, I must understand what drives them to say what they say. If there is no fact to back them up, I must realize that it is not a fact behind their words, but a dumbfounding innocence in their hearts that says, “Yes, I believe this to be so, even though it may not be. I believe this because it aligns with my views, and in the end it is only a matter of speculation, so I am not afraid to voice it as my opinion.”
Perhaps too often we leave out that part, when we say, “Yes, just my opinion, but important nonetheless, and grounded by what I have seen and experienced.” If their experience has led them to believe something, when they are well aware of the facts to be had, then I cannot blame them. It is me who must bend to understand the heart behind the conversation, not them. They are not oppressed by my want of understanding, and my search for sincerity, but free to continue as they are, perhaps spewing hot air, or maybe well aware.
I just want to know if there is sincerity in what people say, or are they full of it? Am I having a conversation with an ego-stroker and a want-to-know-it-all, or someone who expects to come to a final conclusion of fact and moral equilibrium? It bothers me. I don’t want to humble myself for a bout of debate only to find that as I keep check of my ego, they are merely pumping theirs. Do you understand? I want honesty.