|Sometimes he listens and sometimes he doesn't.|
And I suppose just by saying it that way, I've taken a position. Now that I've done that, I'll ask a question: Why do we do that? And here's another: What are we afraid of?
Positions are fine. Knowing where someone stands on something - an issue, whatever - is good. Knowing what to expect of someone because you know his position is good. But one should ask questions to determine what that position is rather than just take statements at face value. It's one thing to make a statement in public, and quite another to have different views in private.
So, always look at the motives for what people say.
I'm fortunate enough to be acquainted with a couple of police detectives having first met them both through my day job. I had a conversation with one of those guys yesterday and I brought the subject of conceal and carry permits for gun owners. Full disclosure: I do not own a gun because I do not like guns. I do not hunt and I do not have what it takes to kill someone with a firearm. That said, I do not want guns taken away from responsible gun owners. (Although I don't understand why a hunter would need an assault rifle to hunt with. It seems patently unfair to whichever animal crosses that hunter's path. Still.) This isn't a post about gun control. This is a story about me asking a question and learning something.
"This may be inflammatory," I said, "and I don't intend it to be. I'm asking because I don't know and I'd like to."
"Go ahead," the detective said. Parameters had been set.
"I don't understand the big deal about conceal and carry," I said. "Why don't people just strap guns to their hips and walk down the street that way?"
He smiled. "You can. There's no law against that." He leaned forward. "But think of it like this: In Missouri they put on your driver's license that you have a conceal carry permit. If you're in a convenience store and a robbery occurs, the robber may want your wallet. You hand it over and they see you're probably carrying a gun. Now the robber has power and starts messing with you, trying to goad you into pulling your weapon. Or worse, he takes it from you. If you walk with a gun on your hip, that's MUCH more likely to happen."
That made sense. I'd never thought of it like that. He's right, though, people mess with you constantly, trying to push you into making stupid decisions.
"Now that said," he went on, "if you're in a situation where there's danger, in our state, you're required by law to remove yourself from that dangerous situation. I have a permit and if I'm with my family - even though I'm a police officer - I'm not going to put anyone else in unnecessary danger. I'm going to leave the area and call for more officers."
This made me feel good. This man has good sense.
But why did he say it this way? What motive would he have for thinking like this? I told him my feelings about guns before I asked the question and he understood that I was asking because I wanted to know what the big deal was.
We went on to talk about various things like how news media doesn't always pick up stories that could actually be news. (The Social Security Administration is purchasing hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition? Does anyone know about that? Yes, someone does. ) And the fact that 'reality' TV isn't really reality but because of its prevalence that a good many youngsters are being influenced by it. "It's a gamer reality," he called it.
So, because I asked a question, I learned something. I listened to the person I asked - unlike Mr. Bill O'Reilly and soooooo many others - and saw where my thoughts had been unduly influenced by my feelings. I had taken a position that conceal carry permits were a bad thing. I don't like 'em, not by a long shot, but I see there's a value to them if the average citizen is going to carry a firearm.
Now I understand.
At least, I understand another point of view.
And that's the lesson for today: find out something from someone else. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Consider the other person's motivation when you are asking those questions, too. Your feelings will prompt you to do it, and that's a great time to listen to your feelings.