“And here, according to Trout, was the reason human beings could not reject ideas because they were bad: “Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter. Friends agreed with friends, in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enmity.
“The ideas Earthlings held didn’t matter for hundreds of thousands of years, since they couldn’t do much about them anyway. Ideas might as well be badges as anything.
“They even had a saying about the futility of ideas: ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’
“And then Earthlings discovered tools. Suddenly agreeing with friends could be a form of suicide or worse. But agreements went on, not for the sake of common sense or decency or self-preservation, but for friendliness.
“Earthlings went on being friendly, when they should have been thinking instead. And even when they built computers to do some thinking for them, they designed them not so much for wisdom as for friendliness. So they were doomed. Homicidal beggars could ride.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
This week I seem to be having a lot of my old issues returning to haunt me and perhaps finally coming to the point where I can put them to bed.
Tonight I lost a friendship (careless of me I know). It seems that my friend Mark considers himself a teacher and somewhat of a guru and was disappointed that I was not ‘sharing his wisdom’ and insights with everyone I knew on the internet. It was a fair point. I haven’t been.
While I have been willing to connect him with people I know, I have not shared that many of his ideas. I enjoy talking with the man and enjoy his conversation. Doesn’t that mean I find his ideas worthwhile? It took me a bit of meditation and sitting with this question to receive an answer. While I do find some of Mark’s insights valuable, I find that many of them have been said before and said better. I also believe that there are some places where Mark widely either contradicts himself or kind of misses the forest for the trees. By saying this, I do not believe that these qualities are not true of my own writing. Like most of us, I learn as I go and I take for granted that all or most of what I say may be superseded by a greater truth.
Herein lies the problem. Mark seems to believe in the absolute accuracy of his vision to such a degree that he has been known to dismiss anyone who disagrees with him without even considering what they have to say or that it may lead to a greater truth. In order to keep the friendship, I have avoided questioning him on his ideas. I could not be dishonest to the extent of endorsing them but I also could not recommend them whole heartedly.
Thus in trying to maintain a friendship I ended up losing it and in the process gained a lesson in integrity. From this point on I will hold the truth to be more important than friendship. Indeed how can you have a true friendship without it?
I am thankful to Mark for driving this lesson home and I wish him well. It’s also refreshing to some extent that not only can I still make errors in judgement at this point in my life but that I can realize them.
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