Look Both Ways

You know the drill. Well, when you were young, someone taught you the drill.

A parent or older sibling, perhaps a teacher. At some point, you were walking along a sidewalk and--about to cross the street--someone older and more experienced than you said, "Look both ways before you cross. Always look both ways."

Thomas Aquinas, church theologian and apologist, always studied, learned and articulated well the positions of those with whom he disagreed.

We could use a dose of Thomistic tact these days. Whenever another party is in "power"... whenever someone else is making the rules, it's so easy to look only one way.

Perhaps as you read through the above list, you might have had a reaction or uttered a sigh. You might even feel disgust, anger, frustration or disappointment.

You're not alone.

It's important to know that many of us feel strongly about a lot of these issues. Don't worry- I will not comment on them at all. This blog (and our website) has a higher goal of opening minds, enlarging hearts, enlightening the soul and, sometimes, nudging us all gently forward.

Nor will Alice and I ever knowingly try to disrespect you by offering pat answers or facile solutions. In most cases, these don't exist. If you've ever been offered one, you know they might feel good, but they miss the deeper reality and oversimplify in order to brush away. So in the meantime, what to do?

👀 Look both ways 👀

1. Check your biases

We all have them. That's okay. But to be blinded by them is not okay. Just know that your experiences (race, culture, religion, gender, etc.) have influenced your worldview. To know what you don't know (and admit it) is not weakness but honest humility.

2. Listen carefully

As a pastor I knew used to say, "No one is smarter than all of us." Research the topic and find experts who know what they are saying. A gut feeling is helpful in some areas of life, but not when it comes to solid, scientific (or sociological) information. If 9 out of 10 dentists recommend something, it's a safe bet to listen to the majority and allow the one to be entitled to his/her opinion.

3. Get the facts, ma'am/sir

No competent, professional journalist would ever submit a story unless and until most of the details were captured from what is called the "primary source." There are dubious news outlets which value increased viewership (and, by extension, higher ad revenue) over truth. Popularity becomes more important than principle. Fake news isn't just wrong; it's potentially lethal. The Nazi propaganda machine used fear and insecurity for morally reprehensible effects.

4. Test the stool

Steve Magness and Brad Stulberg (of The Growth Equation) speak of the importance of the three legs of a stool: research, theory, and practice. If they are all there, great, go forward with your hypothesis. If two legs are there, proceed, but do so with a little extra skepticism. If you only have one of the three legs, then your idea is on shaky ground. No legs and it's almost certainly junk, or more generously, a good fiction story. Use the stool test as an evaluative tool to make sure that your thinking is clear and on the right track.

If we look both ways as we enter into discussion, we can all help one another. An argument is only productive when, instead of being intent on proving "my" side, we all gain a clearer, broader picture of what is going on.