The roar of the falls silences the noise from the modern world as the river catches me up in the moment of tranquility. Here in this place where the turbulent flow sweeps through the mountains I can listen to my own thoughts. Among them I find a question. Does being correct give us the right to be arrogant? The question comes from more than one “conversation” on social media. At this point it doesn’t matter what was said, who was right or why. So many people look at a topic from their perspective only and in their own mind they won the debate simply because they made their point as they understood it. I’m not even going to look at weather or not “A” or “B” was correct. What I need to talk about is simply being a either a good sport or a gracious winner. It’s about treating the other side with respect and allowing them to maintain their dignity.
When I was in collage one of my Entomology instructors was really into live demonstrations. He was the kind of teacher that would bring a live specimen into the classroom and force us to figure out what kind of “Critter” it was. The insect was normally in larval form and didn’t look a thing like the pictures in the books. And the examination had to be a group effort and include a bit of debate. Young minds being full of ego these debates could get fairly vigorous at times but the intention was for to develop a sense of when we had consensus within the peer group. One time this lead to what could have been a knock down drag out fight. The instructor halt the class and brought a student to the front to help him with a demonstration. /he asked the student to place his hands up at chest level and the student obliged. then the instructor placed his palms directly on the student’s palms and stared into his face for a few minuets. The instructor began to push. Gently at first. The student resisted And the instructor commanded him to stop resisting. “I can’t help it”, the student protested. “It’s a reflex.” “But you agreed to help me with this demonstration!” the instructor continued as he pushed harder causing the student to resist harder. This went on for several minuets with commanding and protesting the actions. Eventually the instructor relented and sent the student back to his seat as he explained the point of the exercise. Which was that if you give resistance then you get resistance in response. And, that you can’t push someone into coming over to your side. You must win the person not the debate. Out of everything that I learned in that class this lesson has been the most useful to me. By treating people with respect & dignity we’ve been able to accomplish more as a society than we ever could by trying to overpower them. I’v also been able to avoid some really bad mistakes because that person who might have been alienated was there with their skills working towards a common goal.
As I look out over Kanawha Falls in awe of the power that spills over the rocks I realize that that power actually comes from two rivers that are flowing together upstream. Namely the Gauley River & the New River. Because they move with each other and not against each they are able to travel farther and accomplish more as one.
With the mental clutter pushed well away from my mind and the memory of such an important lesson brought up My answer to the question above isn’t so much yes or no but instead my answer comes as a firm no. No we do not have the right to claim arrogance because we happened to have the correct answer. the next time it could just as easy be the other person who has the answers & more than likely we needed each other to get the answer in the first place.
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