Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Diminishing Circle of Influence

To be fair, I doubt that my circle of influence is truly getting smaller. I think that I am just beginning to realize how small it has always been.

When we are young and full of ourselves and our grand ideas and opinions, we think that everybody wants and needs to hear our thoughts on every subject under the sun. Sometimes, even as we grow older, we continue to believe that we have all of the answers and people want to hear what we have to say.

I'd have to be honest if asked how often people actually come to me and ask, "What's your opinion on this matter?"
It hasn't been very often. There have been very few times that somebody has come seeking my opinion or advice.

I guess we often figure that if somebody freely offers their opinion, they are inviting us to give ours. I'd say that isn't really true. Having to listen to our affirming or contrary thoughts are just the price they have to pay to speak their piece. They know that. It doesn't mean they want to hear what we think. It means they want us to hear what they think.

I've considered writing about the attacks on Paris and some of the worldwide responses, but I've decided that I'm not willing to pay the price of sharing my opinion. In fact, I'm going to pull a page from a much older and wiser cousin's Facebook playbook and just restrain myself. Having to listen to the views of others is often more than I'm willing to do.

I don't mind that we have differing opinions and I actually enjoy discussions with well informed people from diverse backgrounds. I'm happy to have thoughtful friends that can give me valuable information that may give me a better perspective. However, the truth is that we (self included) usually don't want a better perspective or to have to change our opinions. That would imply that we were wrong and had to learn something from somebody else -- and don't we all want to be the smartest one in the crowd? Don't we want to be the one doing the teaching?
Shame on us when that is the case.

There are many social, political and religious battles that we can fight over. The grand majority of them have little impact in our daily lives and are not worth the time and argument effort to me.

(A couple of notes here -- discussions and arguments are different things,
and social media discussions between two three people can easily turn into fights or arguments when others decide to chime in.)

Realizing that giving my opinion (which nobody really wants to hear) is an invitation for others to give theirs ... well, I may just keep them to myself (at least in public forums). I'll also be more selective about sharing in personal discussions. As I said before -- I don't think there are too many people that are really interested in what I think about most things.

Looking back over this post I'd have to say that I've said a lot about saying nothing!

Be informed.
Be well,

John <><


Mike said...

"...I've said a lot about saying nothing!"

You're ready for prime time news.

allenwoodhaven said...

I agree that most people want to be heard rather than actually listen and have a dialogue. It's frustrating to have information, or a "better" way of doing something, and not have it welcome, but I've gotten used to it. People have to earn in their own way at their own pace. All one can do is be ready to instruct when they are ready to listen.

I remember an old story about a farmer who so wanted his crops to grow that he went out everyday and tugged at the plants to make them grow faster. You can't rush Mother Nature or people's listening skills...

eViL pOp TaRt said...

And yet you are a man of compassion and wisdom and worth hearing your thoughts!

Bilbo said...

This was very well said, John. Any of us who blog know that we have only a limited circle of influence; most of the people who stick with us and read our blogs do probably so because they agree with our positions on issues. People who read our blogs and disagree move on to find others that are more to their liking ... I have lost several readers over the years because of this. You and I have different views on religion, but I continue to read (if not comment) because I like hearing your point of view, even if I don't always agree with it. I think we just need to accept that people can disagree calmly and respectfully on some things and yet still remain friends and enjoy each other's company, whether live or virtually. And I agree with Mike! Hang in there ... your friends are with you.

Kevin Gilmore said...

John, you were very helpful to me when I was struggling with how to go about doing what I then considered the unthinkable; voting for a democrat. That was back in the 2008 election and I was finally questioning so many things that I'd never before questioned and you and others helped me to see things through another perspective. I will be forever grateful to you and those few other friends who helped me along the way.