We seek comfort in almost everything we do.
In many ways, that’s a good thing. After all, the easier it is for us to do what we need to do–whether it’s sitting at a desk all day, digging trenches for power lines, or catching a football–the more likely we are to do it. A level of comfort makes us more productive.
But just like every other aspect of our lives, we take comfort to extremes. To some of us, any pain is an indication that something is wrong, reason enough to stop doing our work or loudly demand that someone is at fault, someone has to fix this. Too many of us have lost sight of the fact that success, victory, always lies on the far side of pain. So we live our lives without pain or victory.
And we carry that habit far beyond mere physical comfort or discomfort. We reject any idea or thought or argument that would require us to think.
When we find a page or article that expresses an idea counter to our own, we click to a different site. We may take a moment to post a snarky or mocking comment, whether or not we’ve read the piece.
When we see a politician or pundit speaking on TV, we listen for a moment to decide whether we agree–then we either nod along with them or change the channel. And we take to Facebook to post something about how brilliant or idiotic the speaker is, expecting our friends to back us up.
As we scroll through social media, we read and like those posts we agree with and ignore those we don’t; and if a friend posts too many links or opinions we don’t agree with, we unfriend them.
What we don’t do, what we no longer afford ourselves the time or energy to do, is challenge ourselves. We review new information by first asking does this match the opinions I already hold? If the answer is yes, we read on. If not, we move on to the next thing.
And every time we do that, we become more comfortable in our own opinions. We become more firmly entrenched in our positions. We make it less likely that we will ever change what we think–or even consider another possibility.
I don’t want to do that anymore. I don’t want my opinions to go unchallenged. I don’t want to be so comfortable in my own views that I can’t see the value in others’ positions.
And if you read these pages, I don’t want that for you, either.
So next time an article crosses your Facebook feed with a headline that makes you think, I want you to read it. Not just with a thought to respond, to tell the poster exactly what you think of them. Instead, find something worthwhile in it. Find some common ground. Then thank the poster and ask a real question. Who knows? You might even get a real response.
We can’t come together unless we have the courage to start seeing others’ points of view. That means we can’t let ourselves hide behind comfort anymore.