I recently engaged in a conversation on Twitter about why the mere statement of a scientific fact makes some people go into a near apoplectic rage (yes, I write it that way because I wanted to use “apoplectic”).
More accurately, many of the responses seemed angry if not enraged. My opponent admitted that the fact itself didn’t anger him so much as the political motive behind it.
I responded, “I don’t understand why it should. Facts help us learn to question our current beliefs; that we could be wrong — or we could be right, and we now have more confidence that our opinions have real merit. We should all be willing to learn, because that’s how we grow.
“Who presents those facts, and their perceived motives behind those facts should be irrelevant. If one of my opponents presented such a fact, while I may be initially irritated, I will set aside my emotional reaction and thank him/her for it.
“Perhaps that’s just me.”
After I wrote that I realized if I could point out a single problem with our society, it’s pride. When we succumb to the devil of pride, we become so sure of our beliefs, we grow rigid, unable and unwilling to grow, learn or change. Our intellectual opponents we soon see as our enemy, and that enemy must be destroyed at all cost.
Part of pride results in depending more on our emotions instead of facts and logic. We should then not be surprised when we and others react emotionally when we see facts that contradict those emotions.
Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before ruin, arrogance before failure.” (TNK)
I also like Proverbs 16:16: “How much better to acquire wisdom than gold; To acquire understanding is preferable to silver.” (TNK)
Another problem with pride is it can destroy our relationships. When we don’t allow opposing views even from those we love, the end result is a deep loneliness. No one likes spending time with someone who refuses to listen. If someone at least gives a different view a fair hearing, it doesn’t matter if they don’t change their mind in the end. That they listen is enough, because they approached the discussion with humility.
We are human. That makes us flawed. We’re not right all the time; it’s impossible. A little humility and willingness to learn, to acknowledge our flaws can go a long way in mending relationships instead of destroying them. Humility can also help us find joy instead of unrelenting anger, defensiveness and frustration.
Best of all, we decrease the chance of looking foolish when we’re forced to face the facts.