This shield that I’ve crafted
Will withstand all attack
Its design has everlasted
All the objections I have had
I needn’t take it into battle
Lest it lose its lovely charm
Don’t you agree? It can’t be rattled
Though it would remove you from harm
Why do you unsheathe your sword?
You put me on the defense
You swing at me? Good lord!
My shield splinters and dents
You swing again, you’re mad!
My shield crumbles to the floor
And yet again, I’m glad
You have humbled me once more
I will clean up this mess
And build another more resilient
Sharpen that sword, and rest
I will require its brilliance
Let it break.
If you are able to defend your belief against an opposing argument, that belief will only become stronger. If you are only seeking viewpoints that validate your beliefs, they will inherently be weak. When such tenuous conclusions form the basis of action, they will inevitably fall apart against the slightest of challenges. To compensate, you might find yourself resorting to obscurity in order to prevent unwanted scrutiny. Conclusions should not be molded to achieve a predetermined end, they should be beacons guiding us to the correct ends.
Debate is the cornerstone of making sure good ideas are the best ideas. Only when there is a genuine desire for improvement, on both sides, is debate worthwhile. Otherwise, it is simply two precalculated narratives trying to outsell each other. Humility should be present, dissent should be welcomed, and formality should be thrown away. In this arena of unfiltered thought, where no suggestion is too absurd to be considered and no question is naive enough for ridicule, a competition of minds breeds the strongest of ideas.
Clinging to a belief exposes you emotionally to it, especially when it is a fragile one. When it is finally debunked, you may be devastated and lose the confidence to continue. This behavior causes you to seek validation in order to protect your innocence. Your primary motive should always be to seek the truth; allow yourself to be emotionally attached to that goal. If you uncover a lie then you will be infused with a vigor and passion to find the truth behind it.
When forming a conclusion, it must be tested. That test can come from debate, or from a more scientific approach that can give you measurable results. In either case, do not go into a test looking for confirmation. There has to be an open mind that you could be wrong, and an actual desire to know that you are wrong as soon as possible. The quicker you know that a conclusion is false, the quicker you can abandon it and move on to another with more merit. If you are genuinely trying to reach a verifiable conclusion, it is tragic to unknowingly and unnecessarily believe in a false one. Seek out dissent and reinforce conclusions by testing them in unfamiliar waters. A healthy skepticism about assumptions provides fertile ground for not only spotting, but pulling out weeds.
It is very easy to validate someone else’s opinion, or work, or decisions. There is quick gratitude and reward in doing so. It is much more difficult to sincerely question it, with the motivation of improving it in the long run for their own benefit. When your own ambition obscures your desire to positively influence someone else, you will carry the guilt of taking advantage of weakness. Forging a relationship where honesty and candor is reciprocated will strengthen your resolve.
- Do you make broad generalizations of what is going on in someone else’s head? Does this practice serve to fuel a narrative of who they are or how they go about things? Have you actually bothered to ask them? Who benefits from such a narrative?
- When an outcome arises or evidence is presented that contradicts you, do you concede that you were wrong? Or do you try to warp your initial viewpoint to give the perception of being right? What is more important to you, a facade of correctness, or a confidence in weathering flaws in judgment?