One of the things that I learned while attending Obama’s second inauguration, in 2013, was taught to me by James Carville (pictured left), and I believe it to be the best advice I’ve ever been given.
If you don’t know anything about this couple, I’m going to give you a little briefing. James is married to Mary Matalin (pictured right) and they are both very prominent political figures. James is a far left Liberal and Mary is a far right Conservative. This probably makes you think, “Whoa, if they don’t agree on stuff like political issues, how can they even stay in the same room as each other?” Well, you’re not the only one to think that.
Personally, I don’t claim to be a part of either political party, but I tend to think more conservatively. Most of the time, when I’m in the room with people who are incredibly left-winged, they end up spouting off their opinions and I feel like they are shoving them down my throat, as if I’m supposed to believe them or I’m stupid (and I’m sure that Liberals feel the same way about Conservatives). Like most normal people, I don’t like that.
What James said in his speech was that it is important to be around people who don’t think like you. That if all you do is hang out with people who think exactly like you do, you won’t learn anything. You’ll stay in your own little bubble and will never grow intellectually.
He went on to explain that it is so easy nowadays to go online and find validation from people who think just like you. Honestly, that’s the most comfortable place to be and most of us aren’t willing to let ourselves be wrong because then we might actually have to change. The fact of the matter is, change is hard, especially when it’s an established mindset. But James said that it is important to hear the other side out and find out their opinions and their reasons why. That is the best way that we can learn and not become ignorant Americans, as the rest of the world tends to see us.
As I browse my Facebook wall, I see my friends getting all huffy and puffy over certain events that the media is pumping out. When I start to think about what I’m seeing, I see a bunch of people forming opinions off of only half of the real story. But when I think back about it, I was doing the exact same thing before I had not been given this important and insightful advice.
The gist of this is that it is important to keep learning. There will never be a day where we can just say, “Nope, I’ve got it all. There’s nothing else I need to learn. I have my thoughts and opinions and they are going to stay that way.” If that’s the way we think, we will never learn. And think about it, if the entire world population thought that way, where would we be? No negotiations, no peace treaties, no compromises of any kind. Continuous learning is important and we should never be afraid of being wrong or talking about our opinions with others to maybe find a common ground.
Being wrong allows us to learn and grow as individuals. We should aim to continuously be growing and learning for the rest of our lives.