Friday, April 15, 2011

It's a journey

Tonight I'm going to invite you to go on a journey with me.  I'm not telling you where we're going, at least not yet.  I think it's better that way.

There are far too many discussions where opening the topic merely means everyone looks into their mind, digs out their assumptions and pre-conceived notions, and then listens to nothing until it's their turn to spout off.  We all do it.  It's human nature.  I'm not condemning anyone for that, because, although I like to think I'm different, I probably do it too.

However, it's probably destructive behavior.  Let me digress for a moment to explain why.

Imagine you're part of a jury.  You've listened to days of testimony, tried to stay awake during some "expert" droning on about the evidence, and probably, more or less, decided what you think.  Finally the judge turns the case over to you, and the group retreats into the jury room to deliberate.

A "bad" foreman (I'm not being sexist here, just using the traditional name) begins by asking for a show of hands.  "How many think guilty?  How many think innocent?"

Sadly, the lines are now drawn.  Whatever your vote, you now have some sort of self-imposed obligation to hold that position...against all assaults.  If you change, you'll be seen as weak, or whatever.  It would be "bad" to admit that you might have been wrong.  Okay, that's what a "bad" foreman does.

A good foreman delays the first vote for as long as he can.  Instead, he goes around the room, asking better questions.  "So, what impressed you?  What testimony did you think was important?  The prosecutor said this witness was reliable, while the defense said he wasn't.  What do you think?"

Now you can have an open discussion without defending anything.  You might find you're the only person who thought that guy was impressive, and maybe the others can/will reveal aspects you didn't see.  Maybe not.  Maybe you can convince them that he was reliable, by explaining what impressed you.

In any case, as a group you begin to explore the issue while no one must defend a position.  Maybe you do it privately, but no one will know if you change your mind.  Along the way, you might decide that what you believed earlier just isn't really there.  However, you're free of any baggage if you do that.  Nobody needs to know, and you don't have to admit it.  There's "no shame."

So, that's my example.  Now, I'll give you a hint about where we're going.  It's a long trip.  It's sorta like driving across the whole country, with no stops for gas, food, or even sleep.  So, we can't make it in one hop.  I'm going to break it up into a series of posts, and each time I'm going to try to stop at some point where you can ponder what we've seen so far without worrying about how it fits into the overall picture.

At the end, I'm going to propose something.  Personally, I think it will be the logical result of the journey we've taken.  You may feel otherwise.  That's fine.  I'm not looking for clones.  I'm looking for thinkers.  I think I know a few.  So, rest up, make one last visit to the bathroom, and get ready.  Tomorrow sometime the journey begins, and I want you to be fresh.  I also invite you to weigh in as we travel.  I'd love to know what you see along the way, even if you're the only one who thought the Purple Pumper down by Wooster was cool.



Anonymous said...

I like being encouraged to think for myself and form my own opinion.
I hope that you booked a bus because there's going to be a lot of us along for the ride!

Craig Allen said...

Actually, Matt, I was thinking of a Mini Cooper. Hey, we're all friends, right? Better mileage too.

andi said...

Count me in...

Craig Allen said...

Gunna be a fun trip, Andi. Bring cupcakes...the bacon ones.