The battleground of culture isn’t university. It isn’t political debates or marches against any institution. The battleground of culture is in relationships. The more I think about it, the more I realize that people don’t change their minds overnight. Rarely do people change through debate or argumentation. We learn information from those we appreciate and look up to. We look to our parents and mentors for guidance, and we look to our friends for affirmation.
Minds are made through friendly conversations in coffee shops, not through aggressive Facebook posts.
Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and most people often think of arguments and debates. Awkward family moments that lead into awkward dinners that lead into awkward relationships. But real change happens at a personal level, whether good or bad. We end up giving our time and attention to those we feel close to and love being around. I’ve seen two friends sit down to debate in coffee shops and a group of friends discussing their beliefs over a meal. It wasn’t mean-spirited or vicious, but civil and loving. Those conversations are opportunity to establish relationships with those we love.
And we want those we love to hold the correct view.
It seems easy now to ignore all that. Interpersonal relationships do not have a place in social media. They don’t really have a place in most families anymore. But I think that they are making a comeback. The great thing about Gen Z is that they seem sick of the hyper aggressive vilification that Millennials seem to love. And as society has become less interpersonal, we’ve also become more set in our ways. We’ve developed and “us versus them” mentality.
We may change minds through intellectual debate, but more so through just talking to others. Through displaying our actions and our beliefs we tend to make others ask questions. They learn and grow within their own worldview. Seeing how others live and think forces us to reevaluate ourselves. As Will Rogers once said, “People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument”. While this is not a perfect Litmus test, it is worth some thought. We learn through what the actions of others teach us.
I think this is partially why most of my articles are focused on the “why” and not the “what” of topics. Because if we have a solid foundation for our thoughts, solid beliefs tend to follow. And we establish that foundation through gentle conversations in friendly places. Now I want to be clear, I am all for intellectual debate and argument.
But it serves the limited purpose of defending ourselves, not necessarily convincing others.
Relationships are our greatest tool in convincing others. Best case scenario: we cause someone to completely and radically change their view on something and devote passion to a new cause. Worst case scenario: we establish a new friendship. So offer to have conversations with people in coffee shops, go out to dinner with people you care about. Let people see your convictions through what you do and how you act, not by you telling them.