“No matter how thin you slice it, there will always be two sides.” Baruch Spinoza
This was drilled into me the long time ago by a mentor who taught me a powerful lesson.
He wasn’t the first person to share this sparkle of wisdom with me.
I remember, as a young child, sitting at the dinner table when, on occasion, one of my parents would open a newspaper randomly, select a headline and insist that we debate both sides of the story at hand.
For example if the headline read, “Local man found guilty of excessive speeding,” then I would be expected to present two arguments for debate.
Argument number one would be to explain in as much detail, and with as much conviction as my young mind could muster, all the reasons why the speed at which a driver chooses to drive was solely his/her business and that the government had no right to impose limits on those types of choices.
Argument number two was to ferociously present an argument for lowering speed limits even further and holding accountable, with severe punishment, those who chose to ignore them.
Many years ago a lawyer I knew explained to me her strategy for preparing her arguments for trial.
She would gather as many colleagues as possible and present her strongest argument, with as much factual detail as possible, as if she was representing her opponents and then re-present her case as she was planning to on behalf of our clients.
She told me that this method of preparation had stood her in good stead on numerous occasions for this enabled her to “out-argue” her opponents because she had “out-prepared” them.
Today I would like to introduce The Habit of Seeing All Sides – the habit of opening yourself to all sides and all possibilities of any issue at hand.
In order to do so properly you need to set aside your emotions and your perceptions which will not only prevent you from having a fully open mind but also allow you, based on the strength of viewing all sides, to reach a deeper level of understanding of the issue and by so doing strengthen your case.
I have tried, albeit not always successfully, to apply The Habit of Seeing All Sides whenever I found myself at opposite ends of a discussion with others and by taking the time to not just listen to their argument, but to really and truly hear their argument, and then inject my own thoughts, on that argument,.
Applying The Habit of Seeing All Sides has not only enabled me to become a skilled debater but also, and more importantly, to become even more committed to the philosophy that “Everything you believe to be true is true (for you), until it isn’t.”
The Habit of Seeing All Sides allows one to experience possibilities to which we might’ve been blinded by our determination to prove a point rather than to hear a point and to see a point.
As we have discussed many times before, we, human beings are walking, talking opinions dressed up as facts and The Habit of Seeing All Sides drives home the truthfulness of that very fact.
The more we embrace The Habit of Seeing All Sides, the quicker and easier it is to accept that just because we believe something to be true does not make it a fact and that, if we are willing to accept this as truth, we then become able to accept there are relatively few facts when compared to the sheer number of opinions.
Fiercely arguing the other side of a debate causes us to become less emotionally connected to our perspective and to view the other side through a far broader lens.
The mentor I referred to earlier used to say that true freedom can only be experienced when we reach the point in our personal evolution where we are able to take each belief we have, hold it up to the light with a willingness to let it go and replace it if it no longer serves us.
Those words, in my opinion, are just as true today and I would encourage each of you to earnestly adopt The Habit of Seeing All Sides as a pathway to a less stressful and more balanced life.
If you disagree with me, please send me a 5500 word essay detailing why you disagree, and, of course, a second 5500 word essay explaining why you agree.
You just never know what might happen.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.