I just finished reading Jack Kerouac's classic novel On The Road. It is a quasi true book based on Kerouac's own life and experiences in the 1950's beat culture. The book is generally reviewed as a brilliant and insightful look into the world of drugs, jazz and the beginnings of the sexual revolution. Parts were gorgeous. Much of it was disturbing.
Kerouac's hero in the story, Dean Moriarty is based on the real life Neal Cassidy. Dean is expressive, kinetic and exhausting. I cringed when I read about his four kids spread across the country with three wives whom he took turns visiting and periodically punching during fights. I wondered about the heartache he left in his wake of stolen cars, brothel visits and abandoned commitments. And yet - I understood when he talked about the wanderlust of travel, about the deep connections between people and about how his soul yearned for more. I'm glad I read the book. It gave me questions to ask and compassion for people who are choosing a life different than mine.
Your belief structure will not crash if you understand your opponent's argument.
If it does, you need to spend some time considering what you really believe. There are limits of course. When I'm on a diet I stay out of bakeries. Just a couple of days ago I threw a book in the recycle bin. It was making my stomach hurt. No need to try everything.
But I'm concerned our society has forgotten how to listen or read or understand anything with which we don't agree. Seems like the current trend is to shun, or shout louder than opposing ideas. The dogma says if we don't agree on everything we can't agree on anything. See where this takes us? It doesn't make us stronger. It makes us brittle. And bitter.
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" - Aristotle
CS Lewis believed everyone in any given era has a blindness to truth born simply by being surrounded by the time's thought patterns. I agree. Same with only talking to people who agree with you.
None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. C.S. Lewis
The reason I read books I don't agree with is the same reason I talk to people who are different then me. It's enjoyable. Refreshing. Interesting. Educational. Wonderful.
What did you read which made you see the world in a new way?
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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