Recently I was reminded of an episode of Star Trek – The Next Generation. Now if you’re eyes are starting to roll back as you’re just not into SciFi … please stick with my story … there is a point …
The Enterprise is called to an outpost on a developing planet. There is an explosion revealing the hidden outpost to the people of this planet (there are strict rules about not disturbing the natural development of a planet). The people of the planet are in their bronze age and for various reasons end up thinking Captain Picard is a god due to his ‘powers’. Given the cultural damage caused by these events, the Captain is forced to bring one of the inhabitants aboard the Enterprise.
Immediately after being ‘beamed-up’ she bows in reverence. Picard tells her to get up and tries to talk her out of this god belief. When he cannot talk her out of it he shows her the ship, the view of her world and more. He continues to explain to her the fact he is just like her, but is using technology which has evolved over many centuries. The captain draws similarities to the inhabitants technology advances such as building huts, weaving cloth and the bow and arrow. She appears to understand but then asks Picard to return long-since dead people to life.
Have you run into a situation like this? You see something you don’t agree with and believe deeply it could be a lot better. So you spend the time to ask powerful questions, and generally hold up a mirror for people. You get to the point you think they see and agree with your position (assuming you were right of course … if you’re wrong I hope you are responsible enough to shift your beliefs). Then when you start to make changes it’s as if the other party wasn’t listening.
If you’re in Picard’s situation of being the one to convince others, don’t take the set back personal. The other person is likely acting based on some deeply entrenched beliefs. Picard had to show the inhabitant a outpost crew member die from her injuries to sway the inhabitant from thinking he was a god. Thankfully we don’t need to have someone die to make progress. However, take a step back and find a different path. Go back to asking powerful questions, just make sure it’s not the same questions.
If you’re the inhabitant please don’t be afraid to disagree. I love it when someone says “I don’t see it the same way you do. Could we explore this further?” You likely have someone with different experiences and views than you trying to show you something. Open your mind. Take this as a potential opportunity to improve your world. You may not land right where they stand, but I’m fairly certain you will learn something along the way.
Regardless of which side of this you find yourself on, we should never become so entrenched in our beliefs that we’re not willing to listen to others. Change is difficult but not changing means you are standing still. Open your mind and explore the possible!
To appreciate a painting sometimes you have to step back from it.