Following on from my post on creating a space for confrontation within relationships I thought I would examine why that was necessary at least for me.
First: definitions. Confrontation at an intellectual or personal level is merely the act of stating a difference of opinion, or caution or desire or etc than what has been previously stated explicitly or implicitly by the other party, rather than staying silent. It’s not pressing or forcing that opinion (nagging or domination), or even the rational defending of that opinion (debate/argument).
I suck at it.
One of the foundations of this blog is me learning to be confrontational correctly, I tend to be motivated to write when there is a disconnect between what I hear other people saying and what I believe. This makes my usual pattern for posting distatefully confrontational.
However this manner of posting is a fairly passive aggressive response to the various things I feel I need to confront. I need to move beyond that to confront things more directly.
The truth is that I am confrontational. I will call people up (if there is some level of relationship) if they’re being sexist or racist, especially if I feel they ‘should know better’. My workmates would probably not consider me non-confrontational as I will happily and readily exclaim that design or UI patterns, or coding techniques are stupid and should be avoided, and when I review code I tend to be unapologetically opinionated.
However the issues that I avoid being confrontational in: politics, sexual ethics, religions in general and specific, doctrinal issues, mac vs pc, etc… I do so for a variety of reasons
I avoid confrontation that would start fights
There’s a massive difference between rational debate and argument and what usually happens when certain topics come up. So it becomes socially unacceptable to bring those topics up, or to present opposing opinion when it comes up. It’s one thing to say “I’m a Christian”, it’s quite another to say “therefore I believe you, the Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim, are fundamentally incorrect about the nature of the universe.” but that is what I believe. I avoid these conversations because frequently they achieve nothing and all we end with is ridicule and no-one is persuaded of anything.
It’s impolite to tell someone you think they’re wrong. Politeness must lose more often in my life, such as pushing someone out of the way of a bus that’s about to hit them isn’t polite, it’s necessary.
I avoid confrontation where I’m not sure of my position
If I don’t know what it is I believe with certainty then I will be much less likely to voice an opposing viewpoint unless it’s something trivial.
Also If I have doubts about my opinion then I’m much less likely to confront with it.
I need to learn more, and to lean more on and live more out of the things I’ve already learned.
I avoid confrontation where I’m not sure of the other’s opinion
In my view this is the best reason to avoid confrontation. At this point, if appropriate it would be better to more fully understand the other party’s opinion than jump in with your own.
I should, in this instance seek to learn to understand the other’s opinion, rather than remaining nonconfrontational at a distance
I avoid confrontation if I don’t care about the other person
I sincerely hope that my not being more forward and confrontation with my Christian beliefs is due to 1, 2, and 3. I fear that sometimes it is this. I know that sometimes it is this. God help me love others more.
We should be as wise as serpents and gentle as doves, dealing with issues and differing opinions with grace and understanding, in love, being careful in the presentation with scary life-altering truths, but not being paralysingly wary of doing so.
This post is still unfinished thought, and meandered where I didn’t mean it to go, but since it’s already 1am you get it in it’s present form.