Saturday, June 07, 2008

Dos

Is there a gene that pushes us to extreme points of view? In the 1900's psychology went through periods where genetics were considered the main determinant of behavior. Then behaviorism reared its head and people argued for the nurture side of nature v. nurture. Now, thankfully there is a paradigm that states the two sides are mutually important depending on context.

What does this has to do with anything? Consider behavior and rigidly held views. Look at the idea that there are two political parties and that the government is often gridlocked by partisan wrangling that squelches ideas that could be beneficial to both sides. Most recently, this was demonstrated by the those Clinton supporters who were so invested and locked into their point of view that they would rather vote for McCain than for Obama. Not making a political statement, just using it as an illustration.

Dichotomies seem to be a human foible. "You're for us, or you're against us." "feminine v. masculine", "left v. right".

The truth though is often somewhere in the middle and the solutions are an acknowledgment of both. Maybe we seek black and white answers because they are the easiest to deal with. Set rules, right or wrong, mean there is a compass and in certainty people find security.

As a person who is often extreme and unreasonable, as someone who too often inserts himself into public arguments without listening and understanding the other side, these ideas feel right to me, but practice of them is not often easy. We're hardwired. But that doesn't mean the hardwiring is restrictive. I think it can be overcome---with practice.

Maybe not by me, but then I'm a hypocrite.

10 comments:

spyscribbler said...

What an interesting post! I feel more like a middle of the roader. I even hold contrasting opinions, at times. It's not any more helpful, I don't think, because then you are no one, LOL.

Charles Gramlich said...

I find myself at times heating up over some issue and ranting about one side or the other and it often takes me a bit to catch myself and realize what I'm doing. I typically believe that there ARE always two sides to an argument and that I should evaluate each side for what it is. But I don't always do that. Sometimes the ape beneath gets out and wreaks havoc before the human catchs up and slaps him down.

miller580 said...

Thanks Stewart for a great little post. I often (not always) listen to both sides of the argument before I maintain that I am right and my opposer is wrong. Unless, of course, I find that I am sooo right, that I don't need to listen to the other side.

Peace.

Travis said...

We can't expect people to listen to our ideas and opinions if we don't commit to listening to theirs too. But who gets to talk first...that's what I want ot know?

I listened to a 30 minute argument at work the other day. And because I was listening as a 3rd party, I could hear that they were actually on the same side of the issue. They were saying the same thing in different ways, and neither one of them would listen long enough to realize that they had wasted an entire half hour thinking that they needed to convince each other of the point.

Susan Miller said...

Wonderfully interesting, Stu. Made especially more interesting, I think, because I am currently reading a book which mentioned a quote from Paul Pearsall's Toxic Success....

"When we say it seems the world has gone mad, we are right. A society of millions tyring to win must inevitably create millions and millions of losers."

We have inevitably said that to have something right you must have something wrong....some string we cling to....and I so adore what Travis has mentioned. If we closely examine the argument we find such similarities, which leads to what I so adore. You become the message you preach against, which could make you a hypocrite or could simply make you wonderfully human.

I echo Miller's sentiments..Peace.

ssgreylord said...

If you can figure out how to undue that hardwiring, let me know. Often I'm not the best at change...

Lana Gramlich said...

I've often thought about how people tend to only see 2 sides to things, when in reality there's a much wider continuum. I guess the easier, knee-jerk reaction is to pick one extremity over the other, but imagine if people actually stopped to think.

Donnetta Lee said...

Very well put, Stewart! I have tried to express this to my hubby many times. He is a former Marine-psychologist-went to law school-from Brooklyn-what a combination. When I first met him, it was "People either love me or hate me." Oh, my. Everything was black or white. He was really into the "nurture" theories, too. Now, after 20 years of being married to me (and all my hard work), he is slowly changing his opinions of the world. He's actually allowing a bit of "gray" area in. Nature and nurture are finally getting some equal ground. Topics of discussion are no longer as polarized as they once were. Whew. What a lot of work I have put in during this time. Or is it just old age setting in??
Donnetta

HEALTH NUT WANNABEE MOM said...

Great points and I agree that some of the answers are in the middle not necessarily black or white. I generally find myself in the middle.

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