“So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions
I often try to be agreeable even when I am challenged by the ideas of another. I tend to go by adages such as Ken Wilber’s that “Everyone is right but partial.” If I listen long enough surely I will begin to understand the ways in which they are right and be able to integrate that into my own world view. I even try to do this in my relationships. I know I don’t hold a monopoly on truth (no one does) so surely there are ways in which I am both wrong and correct in most situations. Until I perceive how I tend to agree. At least it keeps the other person talking and explaining when they feel I am open to what they have to say. Eventually tho I ask questions for clarifications. If something at that point doesn’t feel right, I will examine my own biases in my outlook towards life and also test to see whether the person speaking has put any critical thought into what they are saying. Have they considered that they may be wrong? Have they looked at other viewpoints? If they have, have they just leaped from one fixed point to another without considering how to integrate the two? At that point I either reach agreement within myself and have something new to integrate or I disagree. This whole process usually takes anywhere from 30 seconds to a few months depending on how new the ideas are to me, how fixed the person is in their viewpoint and my willingness and availability to continue the conversation.
Too many people find either a person or a group of people with whom they share some ideas and start agreeing with them no matter what they say. They sometimes take it to the extent that they stop examining their own thought processes in their need for approval from this group or leader. This is the type of machine like thinking that all too often leads to ‘one solution fits all’ or ‘if you don’t agree with us, you’re evil’ type thinking and in the worse cases religious extremism, intolerance and war. At the very least it is a form of mental, emotional and spiritual suicide.
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