Sometimes I think I’ve heard everything. Just about that time something seems to come along that surprises me and convinces me I have not heard it all. Recently, I began reading an article that talked about the post-truth age. This refers to a tendency more to emotional responses than objective truth in discussion or debate. This is reactive rather than responsive in which my emotional response to a given situation is far more important than any facts involved.
Social media can be viewed as presenting examples of this phenomenon. Often the emotional responses seen on social media have little if anything to do with the facts involved in a situation. One result of this reliance on emotion over fact is the reluctance to enter into a discussion because of the reality that someone will almost certainly get upset.
I value the times in my life when I have been able to debate ideas with people who hold different viewpoints than I do. I have learned some valuable lessons by having my beliefs challenged by putting them next to radically different viewpoints in an open and honest discussion.
A way to look at behavior to see if it is following the post-truth mentality is to apply this standard. I believe that each of us does the best we can in every situation, given the information we have. When I see someone acting in a way I do not understand, I ask myself what I think they are trying to accomplish. Part of that process is to try to determine what if anything might cause me to respond the way they are.
I will be the first to admit there are times I cannot envision circumstances that would cause me to respond a certain way. That awareness tells me something extreme must be going on to make someone behave a certain way. Sometimes the act of trying to understand what someone’s behavior might be saying helps me to relate to that person in a way that benefits both of us.
For me, I choose not to live in a post-truth age. Emotions are an important indicator of what might be going on in someone’s life, but I would rather base my decisions as much on facts as on emotional responses. I believe the time we spend in probing for the facts in resolving issues in our relationships is valuable.
As we move forward, may we resolve to respond rather than react in relating to others. May we make the effort to understand what might be going on in someone behaving in ways we do not understand. May we take the admonition to give others the benefit of the doubt to its fullest expression.If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.
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