It also allows us the luxury of some very weighty, uninterrupted, in-depth discussions.
Take one we've had this week: We were talking about the dangers of trying to seek out only those people who are very similar to yourself. Her position was that you'll have less conflict in your life if you surround yourself with people as like minded and similar as possible. That should make you more content and therefore, a happier person.
She has a mildly decent point in some ways. . .if you never have much interpersonal conflict, you might enjoy a quieter, more low-key life. But I challenge the notion that you will be happier.
I think that kind of life would be more appropriately labeled 'existing.' To me, a large part of happiness is achieved through the growth a person experiences via challenges and even conflict.
The truth is, people do tend to connect with others who share a number of similar values or beliefs. I mean, who has the energy to socialize frequently with someone with whom you have to avoid mentioning religion, politics, parenting techniques, musical tastes, and whether or not you immunize and use a microwave?
We're slightly lazy creatures, us humans.
So, we do tend to gather with folks that are somewhat similar to ourselves. But I think we need to be deliberate and intentional about not constructing a homogenized community of mostly similar thinkers, too.
It's good for us to be stretched and challenged.
Sometimes, various beliefs float about ethereally in my head for years. . .they're there, and I sort of know what they are and why I believe them, but it's all a little vague and uncertain.
But when I'm asked to articulate and substantiate what I believe, well, that forces me to organize and examine and weigh up those wispy little notions and churn out a defensible position.
Sometimes during this process, I learn that you can't. . .that my foggy concepts really can't hold water, no matter how long they've been clouding up my mind.
And sometimes, the process pulls out a depth of conviction that surprises even me. I learn that my belief isn't merely a shallow, unformed pool of nothing. . .it's a fundamental part of who I am. And it helps form the platform on which my character, life and choices are built.
So I think we need to be with people who think, act and believe differently than ourselves. Maybe not all the time, but regularly enough to be roused from our stupor and forced to consider a wider world than exists inside our own minds.
Without challenges, there is no growth. Without growth, there is no point.
At least that is what I believe at the moment. . .
(photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here)