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In the Real World — The Half-Full, Half-Empty Glass

In the Real World — The Half-Full, Half-Empty Glass

I don’t watch talk television. I don’t listen to talk radio. I don’t go to blogs that sit heavily on one side of a cause. I like my intellectual arguments, respectful, thorough, and balanced. But more and more what I see everywhere I look are two sides trying to be so opposite that they’re almost becoming the same. It’s worse than boring. It’s stifling, and at the same time amazing.

I’ve picked up negative comments removed the names and played them back to people I know have a stand. Folks on both sides of an issue have claimed the comments describe their opponent perfectly. Each side is saying the same things over and over. It’s proof that something wrong is going on. Don’t they know?

Is the glass half full or half empty? I’m right. You are worse than wrong. Are you for or against net neutrality? They are demons. We’re all saints. Let’s not talk about religion or politics. Trust us only. They always lie. Don’t mention the environment, gun control, or animal issues please. I don’t need to hear what you have to say. You don’t have anything to say that I need to hear.

No one is listening. They’re talking on top of each other.

Which side are you on? Don’t you care about the world, your kids, or social responsibility? Pick a side, hurry up, hurry up, please. I need to know your pick so that I can keep moving. There are only three kinds of people in the world – friends, enemies, and folks I don’t know.
Are you listening? Can you hear me? I see more than two sides.

Rich knows.

Regardless of the issue, any time two sides become too firmly entrenched in their views and opinions, screaming that they are right and all dissenters are wrong, any potential action on this becomes paralyzed. And unless things change, the debate is already pointless because nobody is listening anyway.

I want to read the book before I have an opinion of the ideas inside. I like to have information and then have a point of view. I can’t let the media decide from the two sides a producer could find or those an editor thinks will sell. Every voice brings a new note, a nuance of clarity. Ideas and people don’t belong in a box.

I like to make up my own mind.

Despite talk show TV and radio, it’s rare that an issue that has only two sides. The challenges of life are far more complex than that. They require deeper thinking and more interesting solutions.

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Why are we binary on the most important questions, but one track with our minds?

If we could toggle the switch in our minds to “open,” we might think creativity instead of arguing the same points on top of each other. We might allow new answers to find their way in. We finally might see that the half-full, half-empty glass is merely twice as big as what we need.

Of course, someone would have to listen.

Liz Strauss also writes, listens, and thinks creatively at Successful-Blog.

View Comments (21)
  • I love your writing, Liz, and am beginning to understand why I do. It is because you are actually awake. I agree with your post 100%. Americans no longer THINK about the positions they take.

    Like I have said before, politics today is more about a team sport mentality than about making life better for everyone. That is for everyone except the team owners at the top. For them it is more like a game of “mutual monoply,” if I may coin a phrase. While they are playing each other in an attempt to maxmize their profits, they never lose sight of the fact that control of the game pieces is the number one factor for their gains and on that issue, the big guys are on the same team.

    Mutual Monopoly? I am going to have to think on that some more.

  • Hi Tim!
    It might be argued how awake I am, but I’m still thinking when I’m asleep. :)

    Your point about “mutual monopoly” rings true with me. I often use a “Monopoly Game” metaphor to point how we never think about who’s working in that hotel we mortgate on the expensive blue property.

    I get confused when people expect me to have an opinion, just people the media has proposed it. I don’t hear enough questions and I hear too many answers that seem signed, sealed and final — yet when I look at them, they don’t seem to make sense.

  • I’m totally with you. The problem is, not taking a side requires you to think for yourself. Analyzing a situation, reflecting, and forming an opinion is more effort than most people are willing to make. It’s much easier to join up with a side. There’s always hope though!

  • Hi John,
    I think you’ve hit the point exactly. If I take a side, I don’t even have to listen because I’m with a group who “already knows the anwers.” That means there is nothing left for me to learn. heh-heh OR I had better not learn anything for it might risk my membership in the group. :)

    Thanks for the “heads up” on the link.

  • Hey Liz!

    Wow, finally I don’t feel so alone!

    I think politics is a prime example of this, as well as the whole global warming debate.

    Although I am registered to one side of a party, people from both sides yell at me because I vote for candidates on both sides (sheesh!)

    Global Warming is a similar issue. I’ve heard arguments from respected (and un-respected) minds on both sides of the issue, and everyone gets upset because I choose neither side (or choose to opt out of the conversation).

    Whatever happened to the neutral position? (hello like Sweden?)

  • Hi Darnell!
    Opting out of conversation isn’t the sames as not having ideas. Folks assume that if I say nothing that I agree them. Then they get surprised that I actually have ideas. I can usually see strong points for every argument and the weak point of each argument usually lies in WHO gets to pick. I’m not sure I want other folks thinking for me on much of anything.

    Thanks Darnell, now I don’t feel so alone either. :)

  • I got so tickled this morning when talking to my son. He said, “Ya know mom, the older I get (which made ME feel ancient – lol) the more I realize things aren’t just black and white…that there are all these shades of gray.”

    I nearly wrecked the car from the tears welling up in my eyes – LOL

    I wish everyone would see the shades of gray.

  • Hi Marti!
    Imagine, if we could get them to see the shades of gray . . . folks might actually start talking sense to each other. What a concept!

    Every morning I see a color sunrise, but I hear people talk with only black and white. What a waste of perfectly glorious color! :)

    I think I like your son! :)

  • At one point I was posting in a group political blog. I am extremely liberal as a rule, and this was a liberal blog, but after a very short period of time I was embarrassed by some of the stupid things posted there. People shouting at each other and no one listening makes for a very poor blog. I have found this to be true on some of the blogs which people seem to think are really good specimens of the genre as well, consequently I have stopped reading most of them.

    Often the blogs seem more like a place where people just want to scream out their opinions, and that is unfortunate.

  • Hi Cooper!
    I know exactly the problem you describe. It’s a human one and becoming more pervasive. It all over television talk shows. It happens in bar conversations. I’m starting to wonder whether it’s being allowed in our classrooms.

    Folks seem to think that if they package up their values nicely, then they don’t have to listen — even worse they no longer have to be polite.

    I might not change your mind. You might not change mine either, but if we listen we might get something worth thinking about for days and days later. Then maybe we won’t be so lonely in our own heads that we have to spend every waking moment tied to talking on our cell phones to feel that we’re alive.

  • Bravo Liz- I don’t like to live in “either/or” worlds either- it’s like I’ve said before in a past post, “stay away from absolutes, absolutely”. There’s such a wonderful world out there if you just keep your mind open!

  • That was a such a great post Liz and all the following comments. Yes, people have many opinions and beliefs. I find it difficult to wade through them all sometimes – even my own. I am finding that asking myself questions about my beliefs opens my eyes and heart up to new answers, ideas and questions. It is a rejuvinating process.

    Finding humour in hot topics is a way to soothe both sides of an argument.

    I had trouble answering the half-full or half-empty question. I couldn’t undertsand why it had to be one or the other. Why couldn’t it just be a glass with some water. There are many things that can be done with just water. We are water. Have you ever heard of Dr. Masaru Emoto? His research into the effects our emotions have on water is inspirational.

    Your post made me think of him. Thanks Liz :)

  • Hi Jessica!
    Why couldn’t it just be a glass with some water? I often had the same response . . . Why are folks always asking me to choose? I was 30 before I decided on a favorite color and even now I allow for my mind to change on that one.

    Most things in life aren’t worth the energy that people put into the arguments they have about them. When I think of what that energy could be doing . . .

    No, I’ve not read Dr. Emoto, but I’ll go looking for him. :)

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