"The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man's observation, not overturning it." --Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton (British politician, poet, critic, and novelist (1803-1873))
I think a lot about Moses and his face-to-face encounter with the Lord in the Pearl of Great Price . The Lord tells Moses that He has a work for Him to do and that He would show him the workmanship of His hands. Upon seeing the world upon which we live, Moses "greatly marveled and wondered" (Moses 1:8). Upon God's presence leaving Moses, he was "left unto himself" and discovered that "man is nothing, which thing [he] never had supposed" (Moses 1:9-10) . I am sure Moses was not going to try to overturn any of these observations with his own.
Notwithstanding a lack of grand and galactic encounters, we should ask ourselves how we feel about the things that we "never have supposed" in our lives. As I do so, I realize that all of mine could be encapsulated in a paper-bent pamphlet while my collection of "Here's what I think" could be gathered in a hard-bound volume, footnotes included! I don't feel that this is a positive divide. Perhaps, I need an editor!
Each has his or her views on life. We all know what we know. Persuasion is part of our existence (just ask my Comm 352 class). Constantly, we look at life with personal view finders. Often, we share our personal interests in an effort to influence others or express our feelings. This is a natural and healthy activity. Persuasion puts us on the offensive but what is the other side of the balance?
I was conversing with a co-worker the other day. He is from Iowa; I am from Idaho. He has his views and I have mine. The conversation turned to politics. We skirted over some of the current "issues" throwing in a few " I thinks" along with the occasional shoulder shrug. It was healthy and non-violent. As the conversation went on, I realized that some of my co-workers thoughts were things that I never "had supposed." He shared similar sentiment with my views. Yes, persuasion was involved but there was nothing to defend. In the end, my co-worker and I were asking questions in unison about things neither of us "had supposed." Nothing was lost in a war-like effort to overturn ideas; rather, all was built upon in an effort to see more.
I submit that we need to find the other side of the offense. If we continue on the offensive too long we eventually turn defensive. The anecdote lies in humility and meekness. It is recognizing that we really do know what we know and that is never enough!
A great talk on meekness: