January 2, 2017

A Successful New Year's Resolution

Listen to those with different opinions...

I don't usually do too well with New Year's resolutions; however, I am happy to report that I accomplished my 2016 New Year's resolution. Here's what I wrote on January 1, 2016: "In 2016, I plan to make more of an effort to listen to others with different opinions and refrain from calling them names on the Internet." Not only did I make more of an effort in this regard, but I believe I actually succeeded. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that this proved to be much easier than I thought it would.

What did I do specifically? First, I sought out others who hold different views and who have had different life experiences from my own (e.g., political conservatives, libertarians, ex-Muslims, religious believers working to improve their religious institutions), and I invested time and effort listening to them with the goal of deepening my understanding of their perspectives. Second, I managed to avoid calling others names on social media, even when I found their views objectionable (e.g., some genuinely angry Trump supporters, religious believers attempting to troll atheists on social media, some of progressives who have doubled-down on the crap that likely cost their candidate the election). My stance was one of learning what I could from others without condemning them in the process.

I am convinced that this exercise was good for me. I've participated in tribalism for far too much of my life, and it is something of which I'd like to free myself. And so, this was something I needed to do. I plan to continue working on this as we move into 2017.

I'm not sure yet if I'll try any additional New Year's resolutions for 2017. I have not had a chance to give the matter any thought, and I'd like to do so before making a decision. I do have a sneaking suspicion, though, that one of the themes I'll continue to address at Atheist Revolution in 2017 is tribalism and how it is impeding our progress.