Friday, February 13, 2015

"Seriously Misunderstood"

Thesis:  "No matter how hard you try, and how honest your intentions, when you express an opinion, you cannot for the life of you help insulting a person harboring a differing opinion."

(Spoken from personal experience.)

"You just insulted me."

"No, I didn't."

"Oh yes you did!"

"You know, I am right here, standing really close to my mouth.  And I'm telling you, I did not hear anything resembling an insult coming out of it."

"Well let me tell you, I feel angry and insulted."

"Perhaps you misunderstood what I said."

"I most certainly did not.  And by the way, I am speaking assertively because I'm upset.  I am generally a calm person.

"I know you are.  We've been friends for a long time.  So tell me, what's going on?"

"All right.  I expressed an opinion..."

"An opinion I substantially agreed with.  Did I insult you because I did not agree with you entirely?

"There you go.  You just insulted me again."


"By suggesting I would be offended if you did not entirely agree with me."


"Thank you.  Now apologize for the other thing."

"I would...possibly.  But I do not know what 'the other thing' is."

"I elucidated a strongly-held opinion..."

"And I agreed - let me reformulate my response - almost entirely with that opinion."

"Yes, but then you said, 'Of course, there are people who feel very strongly in the opposite direction.'"

"And saying that was insulting?"

"Not yet,  But then you said '...and those people need to be respected.'"

"I see.  And why exactly is that insulting?"

"Because you are implying that you respect those people and I don't."

"Well, do you?"

"Do I what?"

"Do you respect the people who feel very strongly in the opposite direction?"

"Frankly, no."

"I believe I knew that.  So how did I insult you by implying something that is actually correct?"

"This has nothing to do with them.  It's about me and you."

"But I substantially - make that almost entirely - agreed with you."

"You think you're a better person than I am."

"No I don't."

"Oh yes you do.  By 'reminding me' that 'those people need to be respected', you are saying that you are open and fair-minded.  Whereas I, by contrast, am a dogmatic hate monger!"

"That's putting it rather strongly."

"Well then how would you put it?"

"The way I put it.  You do not have to agree with everybody - I don't agree with everybody.  But it's important to understand, I think, that people who hold beliefs opposite to your own hold them with genuine sincerity and an equal amount of passion."

"Yes, but they're wrong."

"Those people have given the matter as much thought as you have.  They just came to the opposite conclusion,"

"And that conclusion is wrong."

"It is their conclusion.  And that conclusion needs to be respected."

"There you go again.  Telling me that I don't respect them."

"But you don't."

"I respect them as people.  But their beliefs are moronic and dangerous."

"You just called them 'dangerous morons'."

"Their beliefs!  Not the people."

"Well whose beliefs are they?"

"Theirs! - Okay, I see your point.  But there is another perspective, you know.  You are appreciative other perspectives, aren't you?


"Okay.  There is a word for people who refuse to take a side."

"I have a feeling you do not mean 'tolerant'"

"Cowardly.  Wishy-washy.  Unwilling to take a stand.  And totally useless in a crisis."  

"That's a lot of words.  And for the record, I think I am taking a stand.  My stand is, no matter how much you may disagree with somebody - Listen."

"I listen."

"...with an open mind."

"Uh-huh.  So now you're open-minded and I'm not."

"I insulted you again, didn't I?  Maybe we should change the subject.  Who's going to win the "Best Picture" Oscar?

"Birdman.  No question."

"I tend to agree with you.  But..."

"But what?"




Wendy M. Grossman said...

Earl: is your friend.


JED said...

This is a wonderful post. I've had conversations pretty close to this one but I could have never written it as well you did.

I've made some people mad by just walking up to them and smiling. I've made other people mad by walking up to them and NOT smiling. I'm going to be 64 next month and I think I've finally gotten to the point where I just accept this.

But it is very hard.

Bruce said...

One of your best posts ever

Jimmy John said...

This just torques my hobnoodle!

Steve said...

This is hilarious.... The only thing I can think would be funnier would to have witnessed the actual conversation.

I suspect we have all experienced something like this --- and think of all the wars fought where both sides believed the other one had a right to their option even though they were stupid and, more importantly, WRONG