To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions.
Why wait until January 1st to lose weight, start paying off debt, quit smoking, or improve your personal relationships when you can do it in December?
That said, I have a suggestion for those who have made a resolution or are about to make one.
My suggestion for 2022: keep an open mind and expose yourself to other viewpoints.
One of my biggest complaints about people, as a whole, is that we don’t do enough to engage in critical thinking, and people very quickly believe anything they read, especially when it comes to social media.
I always thought social media was the best way for the uninformed to reach the uninformed, but I digress.
Now, I’m not saying change your core beliefs. If you believe in reparations or income inequality, that’s fine. If you have strong opinions about guns or abortion, that’s cool too. All I ask you to remember is that there is usually more than one side to a problem. In fact, there are usually many facets and nuances, and would it really hurt you to know them?
If you’re a loyal MSNBC fan, would it really kill you to watch an occasional hour of Fox News? If you’re a big National Review reader, would it be so bad to read an occasional article in the Nation?
Of course not. In fact, you’ll find that by exposing yourself to other points of view, you can actually become a better advocate for your own because you understand what the other side is thinking and can form better arguments.
As some of you know, I have been teaching speech at Ivy Tech Community College since 2003, and at the end of the semester my students are required to deliver a persuasive speech. So, I give them a poll to answer various political questions of the day, and based on their answers, I have them argue the opposite of what they answered. So, for example, I will ask them if they think Donald Trump should have been re-elected president. If they answer “yes”, I make them say that it should not have been. If they answer “no”, I ask them to say that he should have done it.
The reason I gave this assignment is that, first of all, it teaches critical thinking. Second, it teaches my students that there are different points of view; some contradictory with theirs. And what I’ve found is that students either have their beliefs reinforced, or they go full 180 and change their minds. But at the very least, they understand their initial point of view much better.
Studying the issues while keeping an open mind will go a long way towards making us a more civil nation and improving our discourse. You can learn a lot by simply putting the brakes on the screaming and screaming and listening instead to what the other has to say.
So take some time in 2022 to listen to other points of view and keep an open mind about things. You will be amazed at what you can find. And at the end of the day, you will actually become a smarter individual. It’s the same reason sports teams watch their opponents’ tape to see how they’re playing so they know how to counter everything that’s happening on the field.
As my charming mother used to say, no one has a monopoly on good ideas or stupidity. And the more you read and engage others, the truer this statement rings.
Happy new year 2022.