You Do Not Always Have to Agree

Debates with friends and family can be a great thing; an exchange of ideas that help you understand a varying point of view is good for you.  The problem occurs when you cannot accept the fact that someone may have valid reasons for having an opinion that differs from your own.  Instead of having a conversation about topics and issues, people become defensive, and even antagonistic; becoming angry at the other person for not immediately changing their mind and adopting the “correct” way of thinking.

We will constantly encounter people who have different views, and sometimes those views are valid, and other times they may not be.  However, as Jedi, we should always be able to hold our calm when encountering different ideas and points of view.  If appropriate, we may state our arguments (again, calmly), but in the event that the person stands their ground (and they most likely will), we need to be able to agree to disagree.

Example from my own life: my parents have very different political views.  I find the things that come out of my fathers mouth backwards, offensive, and completely uneducated.  He considers me young and foolish.  We will never agree, he will never accept my opinion, and I have come to accept that.  My father is also the type to become enraged when you do not immediately adhere to his opinion, so I simply do not engage in political discussions with him and will physically leave the room when he starts ranting politics (he is often found yelling at the television).  It is not worth the fight, and I would rather keep the peace at home.

You could also encounter a person whose religious or cultural background causes them to believe differently.  If it is someone you are close to and can comfortably have a debate on the topic with, by all means, discuss, but chances are very low that you can change their mind, so accept that, and see it as an opportunity to learn about another culture.

Everyone does not have to agree with you.  In their mind, you are probably just as wrong as they are in your mind.  You may both be right.  You may both be wrong.  Everyone is different from you with their own past experiences that have shaped them, and that is good.  Diversity is good.  New and different opinions create change and growth, and make the world much more interesting.

Even within the Jedi community, you will encounter people who have very different views of what the Jedi should and should not be.  In the eighteen years I have been around the community, I have run into all sorts of different opinions there.  I have seen it end friendships.  I have seen new communities develop and other sites dissolve for it.  And yet the cycles continue and patterns repeated.

Bottom line:  learn to not take offense from opinions different from your own.  Realize that what another person thinks does not change your thoughts or who you are.  If someone chooses to adhere to a lower standard in your opinion, that does not mean you need to lower yourself to their standard.  Live your life, be an example of what you believe, and if your way truly has merit, others will inevitably follow suit.

(Disclaimer: I feel the need to point out that I am not speaking in regards to protesting great atrocities in society and what not.  I have great respect for those who have protested peacefully for change, though I have less respect if they do not act in ways to support their protest or take the existing actions available to effect change.)

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Random Musing

This evening I was on set of a commercial.  We were filming by Northwestern, in a field surrounded by a track.  Throughout the evening there were various people running and walking around on the track, but at one point, a group showed up and the end of the field we were facing towards.  They did a group warm up, and then they did a lap, regrouped, and then started running again.

As I was standing there watching the runners pass by, observing their posture and strides…I found myself thinking how nice it would be to see that in the Jedi.  A group of Jedi show up at a track or somewhere similar as part of a regular workout group.  Not just once in a blue moon, and not just at lightsaber gatherings, but actually workout…out in the world…being an example…  Kind of like seeing high school cross country teams running through the neighborhood after school all wearing various team attire; a t-shirt, shorts, a hoodie, a windbreaker…

Chicago seemed to be going that direction for a heartbeat…when we started offline here we would get together at forest preserves and do Tai Chi and what not, but we were small then and that changed quickly.

I can imagine students at the Jedi Temple doing fitness classes together.

It was just a very beautiful daydream for that moment and I thought I would share.

Leadership – Ask or Be Asked?

The new year brings about elections for a group that I am a member of, and I find myself thinking back to the elections last year.  I was friends with two of the people running for the leadership position, one more than the other however.  When I was talking to friend B (friend A being the one I was closer with), he made a comment along the lines of “Of course you are going to vote for friend A, he probably promised you a position on his staff.”  I informed him that that was not the case, and made a joke that no one ever wants me on their command staff.  He responded by saying that he never knew I was interested, and talked as if he would add me to his command staff if he won.  He won.  I am not on his command staff.

For me, I never ask for responsibility.  In situations like the one above, I assume that if I possess qualities that someone wants for their leadership, they would ask, yet time and time again, I have people tell me similar: “I never knew you were interested.”  “Why did you never ask.”  I have to wonder if that is truly the case or if they are just trying to be polite.

Basically, I feel like asking to be given leadership responsibility puts people on the spot.  If they do NOT want me as a leader, now they are forced to either accept my help despite being unwanted, make false promises (as my friend apparently did), or tell me they do not feel I am fit for the position.  It is not a fun position to be in (unless you like breaking peoples confidence, of course), and I hate to put anyone in that position, especially if they are someone I am close to.  Nor is it very fun to be told by someone that they do not think you are a reliable leader for whatever reason.  Besides, I would hope someone I am close to would know that they could ask me for help if they had need or want of it.

Perhaps it is just me though.  Politics tend to work differently, but even our leaders in the group I mentioned need to be nominated before they can be elected.  Still, I do not desire or need leadership positions, so I do not ask for them.  However, if my participation in a leadership role is wanted, I am usually willing to help (if not, it is much easier for a person being offered the role to say they feel unable to fill the role, than it is for a person giving a leadership position to tell another that they are unfit).  It just makes me wonder how many people who could be fantastic leaders never do so because they were just waiting for someone to ask.

I know that seems contrary to what being a leader is, but there is a quote out there that I cannot recall the source of, may have been George Washington, but I might just be remembering it in regards to George Washington, that basically says that the best leader is often the one that does not want the job (Washington did not want to be President).  Besides, how often do those who actively pursue leadership positions, prove to be focused on the power of the position, rather than actually helping the people and the community.

A good leader knows how to lead by supporting, and while some may pursue leadership and prove worthy, others may only step up and become a leader if it is requested by others, or absolutely necessary to avoid failure and collapse.  A call to action, as it where.

If you see someone you think would make a good leader, ask them, or if you are not in a position to offer them leadership, perhaps suggest they pursue it.  Who knows, maybe they never thought about it before because they did not think others saw them that way and you could be offering them a new perspective on themselves.