We’re living in a time when people tend to isolate themselves intellectually. Not only do they not take it upon themselves to search out viewpoints that differ from their own, but they actually shun people who do not agree with them. We see this all the time on social media. You post something that person X does not agree with. Rather than reading what you have to say and starting a dialogue regarding your differences in hopes of helping each other discover the truth, person X ignores the post, or worse yet, unfriends you.

This sort of behavior is consistent with our cancel culture, but frankly, it is childish and foolish. I use these words advisedly, not as a smear. This is childish because only children plug their ears when they don’t want to hear what you have to say, not sensible adults, and thus when adults engage in this kind of behavior they are literally acting childish. This is foolish because this sort of behavior makes it impossible for one to grow intellectually. Everyone has false beliefs. The only way to discover which of our beliefs are false and correct those beliefs is to be open to listening to alternative viewpoints. If we ignore alternative viewpoints and shun those who hold to them, we stunt this process, guaranteeing that we will not grow in our knowledge of truth and wisdom.

When you encounter someone who refuses to discuss something with you simply because they do not want to hear a contrary view, or unfriends you because you disagree with their viewpoint, ask them the following three questions:

  1. Do you think it’s possible that you could be mistaken regarding this issue?
  2. If you were mistaken, would you want to know it?
  3. [Assuming they answered affirmatively to the first two questions] If you realize you could be wrong, and you would want to know it if you were, how do you expect to achieve that goal if you cut off dialogue with anyone with whom you disagree?

Virtually everyone will answer the first two questions affirmatively. We recognize we could be wrong and we desire to know the truth, but how can we accomplish that goal if we ignore views that are contrary to our own and excise people from our life that hold views differing from our own? We can’t. The only way we can identify and correct our false beliefs is to listen to those who differ from us. It is only through dialogue that we can inch our way closer to the truth.

Truth is our goal, and the only way to get there is if we dialogue rather than cancel.