By Joshua D. Glawson | United States
Read, Read, Read
One of the first things I learned along the way of political science and philosophy has been to read as much as possible. I began with many of the classics such as Bastiat’s The Law and Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. I also read works by Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Thomas Sowell, Mises, Hayek, both Milton and David Friedman, Tocqueville, C.S. Lewis, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, Bertrand Russell, George H. Smith, Ron Paul, Lawrence Reed, Anscombe, David Boaz, Kant, Grotius, Pufendorf, Francis Hutcheson, Hume, Robert Nozick, Jefferson, Douglass, John Searle, and more. Not only did I find it necessary to read people that would help to shape my ideas and point me in various directions to where I would end up today, but I have also read and continue to read people that I disagree with, for the most part, such as Marx, Engels, Hobbes, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Piketty, Rawls, Baldwin, Keynes, Machiavelli, Hegel, Heidegger, Peter Singer, Putnam, Quine, etc. I am sure I will think of other authors on both sides that I wish I put, but to save space I shall leave it at that.
Interestingly, even with those that I adore and those that I dislike, I still find things I agree and disagree with each of them. The only way to fairly judge their ideas is by reading them and finding what best works for you and reality. It strengthens your ideas and mind to think critically about everything you read, and to know the opposing views. The best way to understand your own views is to question them and to hear out those of opposing views.
Another reason to read is to lessen your frustration when in discussions or debates with people. I found that if I was getting heated in the discussion over the topic, I should instead of arguing go and read more on the topic. The more we know of a subject, the less frustrated we should be when discussing that particular subject. In the end, however, some people will still disagree with you even if you show all the evidence and carry out a sophisticated discussion. That is okay. Learn to be okay with that. Continue to read current ideas and philosophical ideas for future experiences and thoughts in order to see if your ideas will change any further. Be sure to annotate and keep a journal of what you learn along with other ideas. Don’t stop learning. Be open to discussion and exchanging ideas, have an active ideologue, and take nothing for granted.
- Read to learn from those similar.
- Read to learn from those opposing.
- Read in order to be a more critical thinker.
- Read in order to help maintain your calm and your relationships.
- Keep copious notes.
When we are politically and philosophically minded, we can tend to become argumentative at times and then sever relationships with people, whether acquaintances, friends, potential friends, lovers, family, etc. The first step in this article was to continue reading and learning more about your subjects of interest. I also recommend reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People because it gives an introductory approach to dealing with people, lessening conflict, and handling difficult situations of communication. It is not the only book out there for this, but it is one of the best.
Learn to adjust your anger and calm your tongue. I have struggled with this at various times of my life, I have destroyed friendships and argued with strangers, I have had social media debates, I have gone through it all. The best thing I have learned in the end is that people can and will disagree, they may carry themselves rather poorly even if you are being extremely diplomatic. Realize that they have their own weaknesses just like we do, and they are just as human as we. The more often we respond in anger, we are creating a neurological habit for ourselves that is difficult to overcome. This causes us to learn to be justified in our anger and make every excuse as to why it is okay, even when it is not.
Instead, we should do everything we can to be both realistic and understanding. We do not need to give excuses for others’ poor behavior, but we surely can control our own. We will win by having more friends than enemies, not by bending on our position, but by learning to agree to disagree. If we make enemies with people based on our ideas, philosophy, economics, history, or whatever, those that become our foes will also resent our messages even more sternly.
Lastly, just as important as it is to not have heated arguments with those outside of our beliefs, it is also most beneficial not to have internal quarrels with others that do share our beliefs in front of those that do not. The outsider will not feel welcome to be involved if they, for instance, see Minarchists and AnCaps fighting. Not everything needs to be argued, a point to be made, thoughts resisted, or a system being bucked at every given point. Like neurosurgeons, it may take time, patience, and skill to be able to change the minds of those around us. Your first test subjects should be those closest to you. If you are unable to change any of the minds around you, it may be something you can work on. This is not to say that all minds need to be changed, rather it is most practical to be able to change the minds of those that already know you and like you.
- Personal responsibility and self-control are both essential and primary.
- Pursue ways to establish and maintain healthy relationships.
- Learn to agree to disagree and to be fine with that.
- You will not win every mental battle, but with more people on your side, it is easier to win the war of minds.
- You cannot change everyone’s mind, and that is okay.
- Heated arguments tend to hurt more than help, and those that are watching can be put off by it.
- Learn to realize when it is an appropriate time to debate, challenge, or question. Not every moment is appropriate.
- Practice with friends and family.
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