Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - Opposing Viewpoints


"You can always tell when a man is well informed. His views are pretty much like your own."
H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I'm frustrated this election year by the fact that the people in this country with different points of view are speaking past and about each other, rather than to and with each other. There's no real dialogue at all. We seem to be afraid to actually listen to one another, to understand viewpoints other than our own.

My law school dean, Rex E. Lee, who served four years as Solicitor General of the United States and argued 59 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, liked to say that if you don't grasp your opponent's side well enough that you could pick up his brief and present the case in his place, then you don't really understand your own position.

He wasn't suggesting you need to believe what your opponent is saying; to the contrary. He was teaching that the ability to listen carefully to, dissect, and fully comprehend an opposing viewpoint will make you better informed and ultimately a stronger advocate for your own position, because we think better by seeing contrast. I think that's advice we could all use this election year.

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