7 Steps To Change The World

People think they know what they are talking about. However, in truth, people are primarily just products of their environment. That environment is hostile, manipulative, and divisive. As a result, we are hostile, manipulative, and divisive. But there is hope!

Three things have blessed my view of the world. 1) I moved around a lot growing up. This exposed me to many different perspectives. 2) I was a liberal atheist. Now I am a conservative-ish Christian. This helps me empathize with both extremes and see at least partial value in both dispositions. 3) My higher education has forced me to learn how to research. Below are six strategic methods I have extracted from my life experiences. I hope that they can bless your view of the world.

1. Humble Yourself

It is tempting to think that you have all the answers. You don’t. I don’t. A friend of mine once told me that the wisdom of a person is measured by the wide array of people he or she can receive from. Be willing to learn from your friends, family, enemies, haters, etc.

2. Discard groupthink

Whatever topic you end up picking, your first step should be disregarding groupthink. I actually like Wikipedia’s explanation of groupthink. “Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.” In other words, ideas get grouped together and people become more loyal to party affiliation than to truth. It is vital that we transcend this tendency!

3. Pick a topic (Go deeper than wider)

This is closely tied to point one. Once you have a clean slate, it is time to select a topic to research. It is important to go deeper than wider. Rather than taking a broad classification, you want to explore the deepest nuances of each topic to ensure that you are really pinpointing your position with thoughtful accuracy.

We tend to lump all of our beliefs together. For example, if I am politically right-leaning, I may feel that my right-learingness is tied to every single topic. I may feel the pressure to be pro-gun, pro-life, pro traditional family, etc. all at the same time. However, it is important not to clump ideas together. Each topic deserves its own detailed research. It might theoretically be more reasonable to be pro-gun and pro-choice (those of you who know me know I am intentionally using hypotheticals).

Furthermore, even within topics, there are many subtopics to be considered. For example, “pro traditional family” would likely include several subtopics such as monogamy, heterosexuality, etc. Then within the context of heterosexuality there are subtopics. If I believe that homosexual relationships are “wrong,” that doesn’t determine how I believe that issue should be legislated. I can believe something is wrong and yet believe that it does not need to be strictly governed. This is generally the case with monogamy. While people don’t allow for polygamous marriage, and may speak against polygamous relationships or premarital sex, many don’t believe it should be legislated. There are a wide range of questions to be asked about each issue. It is rarely an all or nothing situation legislatively. There is a sliding scale of punishment for an act, protecting those who commit the act, and even promoting a given act. The point is this, pick a specific topic and dig deep. Consider the details, don’t jump on an all-or-nothing bandwagon.

4. Apply the Veil of Ignorance

The veil of ignorance is vital to discarding personal biases. It works as such: “to insure impartiality of judgment, the parties are deprived of all knowledge of their personal characteristics and social and historical circumstances.” In other words, you don’t know who you are in the situation. Pretend that you get to determine what laws will exist for Topic A. However, here is the catch, you don’t know who you will be. You might be a man or a women, gay or straight, black or white, etc. The goal then is to come up with a law that best provides for all possible parties. Though the theory was phrased this way in the 1970s, its essentially a different presentation of Jesus’ Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This is a compassionate, empathetic approach that does not allow the laziness of selfish governance. If we view all issues through the veil of ignorance, we will be able to 

5. Choose QUALITY voices from both sides

Listen to scholars, those who have actually studied your specific topic. And listen to multiple perspectives. Generally there are at least two clearly distinguishable positions, but there are often many nuances within each position. So pick some of the top players in that particular field and consider their arguments. If you can find a debate on the topic, it may be helpful as well. Don’t think that arguing with social media trolls is studying a point of view.

6. Listen, Listen, Listen

If you approach a conversation hoping only to share your opinion, you are not open-minded, you will not grow, and you will not care about the person with whom you are speaking. Listen and keep listening. You never know when someone may be able to add to your understanding. Often times this will come from a totally unexpected source. You don’t have to be best friends to learn from someone, and just because you agree with something they say doesn’t mean that they are right about everything. Humility…

7. Arrive at a (partial) conclusion, but remain open to new information

Congratulations, you should have a somewhat reasonable position. However, that doesn’t mean you have the correct position. Humility keeps us from thinking that we have ever “Arrived.” There is always something else out there to learn. A healthy and humble position should read something like this: “To date, I believe X due to ABC. However, I am open to consider new data that I have not yet heard or may have misunderstood.”

Closing Thoughts

Imagine if we all followed these six steps? Imagine how well prepared you would be to dialogue with people should you choose to follow these six steps yourself? It takes some work and commitment. This method is not for the lazy, but it is for those who value excellence and truth! Will you make the effort and become part of the solution? Follow these steps, train others to do the same, and together we can change the world…


WHAT DO YOU THINK? What else can we do to become more reasonable? Leave a comment below and share to get your friends in on the conversation.

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1Comment
  • kappazei
    Posted at 09:02h, 16 June Reply

    Amen!

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