Once upon a time, I was a political, religion, and science forum debater. I was good at it. I took pride in my ability to scribe the compelling nuances of my position as to masterfully refute my debate opponent. I knew I was right. More importantly, I knew that if you did not agree with my opinions, then you were simply wrong.
It was thrilling, and intellectually invigorating! It was also hopelessly pointless.
At some point I began to resent the person on the other side. “Why don’t they get it? See how masterful my logic is? See how I intricately wove the Bible into my position?”
I began to believe that they were just too stubborn, and dishonest debaters because they would never change their mind.
During one particularly intense debate, my opponent asked, “Herb, is there anything I can say to change your mind?”
I quickly quipped, “No, because you’re the one who needs to change his mind!”
Immediately, a flood of taunts were directed at me. “Hypocrite!” they mocked.
3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)
That’s when I realized it was all pointless. The truth is that all of us – even those crying, “Hypocrite!” were never going to change our minds. We were reveling in the fact that we did not agree. No liberal was going to become conservative and no atheist was going to suddenly believe in God just because I had a compelling argument. Why? Because the lifeblood of the beast was “disagreement.” The only way to get that 2×4 out of my eye was to leave that world behind.
Today, I try to avoid debate. If I’m in a vigorous discussion, rather than try to convince anyone to think my way, I offer my viewpoint, and listen to their viewpoint. And here’s the kicker: I try to allow their opinion to take traction in my mind – perhaps they are right, or partially right. Can I learn from them?
Too many times we allow “being right” to become the most important thing. But, in “true community” we are all equally capable of being transformed by one another.
Final thought: if you are complaining about someone else, and how they are acting – please get out a mirror and look at yourself. You might have a 2×4 hanging from your eye-socket.
I’ve got my mirror. Where’s yours?