Do you remember having arguments with your siblings back when you were a kid?
Needless to say, they were ridiculous to begin with, but something frequently happened that took your stupidity to new heights … or is it lows?
At some point during the fight, your sister or brother said something that struck you to the core. It felt like a sucker punch straight to the gut. It was more than real. It was surreal.
What I’m getting at here is the fact that with a single sentence or even a mere word, your sibling said something so shockingly definitive that it shut you down and rendered you speechless.
You lost the argument because you were convicted. The truth hit you like a bucket of ice water to the face … or pin prick to the ass. In short, you felt it and it didn’t feel good. It rocked you.
However, you were NOT having it. Even at this point, you decided that you were in too far and had invested too much energy. You had to save face. In short, you were NOT going to lose this argument by giving in and so, what did you do?
Of course, you did what almost any kid would do. You put your fingers in your ears and shouted out …
“WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
And then, to dig an even bigger hole for yourself, you sang out …
"LA! LA! LA! LA! LA! LA! LA! LAAAAAAA!"
It was the ultimate in childish petulance, but you were both little kids, so you were doing what KIDS do.
Earlier today, I was chatting with my friend Debra. She was telling me that she recently ended a long relationship with a dear friend. Why?
Politics. Of course.
They had a vicious disagreement about the state of our nation and where we may or may not be headed.
Debra told me that as she tried to explain her concerns to her dear friend, the woman simply was NOT having it. She wouldn’t even listen to her. Clearly, Debra is upset about losing this friendship, but she also believes that she’s entitled to her feelings despite what others may think.
At this point, I recall saying to Debra …
“It sounds to me that as you were trying to explain your concerns, your friend put her fingers in her ears and started singing … "LA! LA! LA! LA! LA!" … as if she were a child!”
“Yes!” said Debra. “Unbelievable!”
And so, I asked Debra, “What IS that?” “What makes an otherwise responsible adult shut down and refuse to at least listen to other people?”
I explained to Debra that I’ve also been noticing this in more and more people everywhere I go. These days, when people disagree with others, they shut down and refuse to continue talking and they certainly won’t listen.
“Isn’t that childish?” I asked Debra. “What’s do you think that’s about? I mean, what causes someone to reject further discussion and literally choose to remain in darkness and ignorance about something as opposed to actually listening and learning something new?”
“It’s an irrational fear of knowledge!” Debra said.
“OH, I GET IT!” I replied.
With that, dear reader, I knew I’d be sitting here sharing this story with you. When people shut down and refuse to continue talking or listening to someone they believe is an adversary, what they’re doing is exhibiting an irrational fear of knowledge.
These people in question would rather live in darkness as opposed to just saying …
“You know what Debra? I never thought of that!” “I’m not sure what I think about that. Let me take some time to marinate on that!”
Instead, they engage in the act of saving face. They believe that by digging in their heels and refusing to “give in,” they won’t be a loser and can hold onto their dignity.
Everybody knows when you’ve got egg on your face. There is no saving face when you’ve got egg on your face. The damage has been done. By trying to save face, you’re only digging a deeper hole for yourself.
There’s simply no other way to salvage your dignity other than by simply admitting you may not be correct and you’ll actually take some time to consider what the other person has said.
Here’s my real point.
The picture I’ve painted here really distinguishes between how children often behave and how adults should not.
Unfortunately, we’re now living in a world where more and more adults insist on behaving like children. I mean, where are the adults? Can someone point out the adults for me?
I’m not sure when, but somewhere down the line, we became a nation full of people who are literally choosing to live in ignorance, with this irrational fear of knowledge that only leads to people constantly trying to save face.
Maya Angelou once said, “When you KNOW better, you do better.”
Inherent in that statement is the assumption of responsibility. When we learn, we must grow and when we grow, we have no choice but to be more responsible for our thoughts and actions. We’re no longer children. We must step into our adulthood and actually DO something about our problems.
In short, with knowledge comes responsibility – whether we want either or not.
We cannot have people constantly reject information or opposing viewpoints simply because they don’t want to be “wrong” and choose to engage in saving face.
We also cannot have people constantly creating alternate realities that allow them to skirt the responsibility of doing better when they’ve clearly learned better.
This is not a sustainable model.
How did we get here? With so many people involved in the act of saving face, we’re not accomplishing anything. We’re moving backward. It feels like we’re all regressing back to childhood.
What? You disagree? Excuse me?
You have the audacity to disagree with me? Well guess what? I’m NOT having it. I’m not listening.
“I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
"LA! LA! LA! LA! LA! LA! LA! LA! LAAAAA!"