I don’t know if it was always this way, if it is a new thing, or if it was my perception that changed, but there is something that has been bothering me — a lot — since the “pre-impeachment” period: people don’t know how to talk. Specifically, people don’t know how to defend their beliefs without attacking others.
“The best defense is a good offense” is one of the sayings that bothers me the most. I cannot make sense, in any circumstance, of the need to attack something or someone. There’s no reason or excuse for it. There’s never reason or excuse for it.
Since the brazilian impeachment, I see “coxinhas” e “petralhas” (how each group calls the other) attacking each other with such strength and voracity that I no longer understand the difference between them, other than wearing different colors. They are just two groups of people screaming the same, yet directly opposite, things. The problem is that in such a loud environment, nobody listens and everybody gets hurt.
I strongly believe in two things:
- Some people are just not ready to review their concepts. Sometimes, they don’t have the depth and space needed to fit new information inside of them. I’ll give you one example. My dad’s dad is a Spiritist. And not just any Spiritist. He’s a great scholar and speaker of the Spiritism, with an immense intellectual baggage on the subject. I have never studied any kind of religion. In a lecture about religion, you can bet he’ll absorb much more and create deeper reflections than I would, because he already has a background I do not have and he is able to make associations I’m not yet able to make.
- When people feel attacked, they attack back, even disregarding their rationality. I believe this is what Mao Tse-tung meant when he said: “When there are no other options, people fight harder.” I can remember so many times I knew I was wrong, but I just couldn’t stop complaining or making excuses. I wanted to be right, I wanted to win the fight, and I wanted to not get hurt by somebody else. The middle of a fight is not a place of convincing and reflection.
Does it mean we should not try to change somebody else’s pre-conceived concepts? No. But we need to do it with love and from a place of love. Having discussions based on love and reason is the key to making changes. It is calling the other person for a private talk. It is asking “can you explain it to me?” It is saying “can I explain to you why I think like this?” It is not to blame, not to upbraid, not to curse, not to minimize. As Pastor Dewey Smith says in this video: “You cannot insult and inspire the same people that you insulted.”
It is also knowing when it isn’t the time to talk, and trying something like “how about if we continue this conversation when we are both calmer?” It is recognizing that every human being has a unique trajectory in life and, because of that, has a unique way to make connections. It is understanding how the connection is made and trying to change it from the root.
One more personal example: my mom’s mom. Even though my grandfather was in the military, he was against the military dictatorship in Brazil, and this got him arrested. So my grandma was left alone with three small children to take care of and with her husband in prison. If that had happened to me, I’d probably be the most leftist person in this planet but, for my honest surprise, she’s right-wing. It took me a long time to understand (and accept) why. Her line of thought is as it follows: “being a leftist got him arrested, and made me go through a lot of suffering; therefore, being a leftist is a bad thing”. Again, every human being has a unique way to make connections. And we need to understand, accept and love it.
I want to complete my point of view with one more reference. The Avon Instituto did a very interesting study in 2016 about The Role of Men in the Deconstruction of Machismo. It is really worth it to read the whole research, but for now I want to bring up two parts of particular data:
Is it a specific research? Yes. Is it about a specific topic? Yes. But it also reflects how human beings function and what generates true transformation. We do have the ability to connect with each other, and honestly, we all are looking to have deeper and more meaningful connections. But for these connections to be able to happen, we need to put down our weapons and stop seeing the other as an enemy. We need to stop screaming our monologues and learn how to have dialogues.
Before I leave, one more resource: this TED Talk from Megan Phelps-Roper teach us how to change our talks.
Edited by Isabelle Jade.
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