Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"I'm Not Lying!" "No, But You ARE Misinformed!"

If you learned math when you were in school--who didn't?--you probably remember learning about graphs.  Bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts...they came in all different varieties, shapes, and colors.  When I was in sixth grade, my math teacher assigned us to take a poll of our class on an assigned subject--mine was, "What is your favorite candy bar?"--and draw the results onto a bar graph, much like the one seen to the right.  Previously, due to my condition, I had been allowed to do assignments that involved drawing on some sort of desktop publishing software--usually ClarisWorks--and I tried to tell my teacher that year that I should be allowed to do that again...but she wouldn't allow it.  Her exact words were, "I don't want you to just push a button and have it made for you!" This teacher wasn't elderly--in fact, she was pregnant the year I had her--but her assumption that computers were magical, mind-reading machines made her sound like someone who didn't know the first thing about them.  I ended up with a "D" on the assignment, and was the only one in my class who got a grade below a "C"; however, that was actually because I had misplaced the chart that was supposed to accompany it thanks to my ever-present disorganization.  Regardless, I couldn't believe that a relatively young teacher would assume such a thing about PCs and Macs; when she was using a computer during a related arts computer class, the first thought I had was, "Wow! You actually know how to use one!" I'd never have thought such a thing if she hadn't assumed my printer would spit out a properly labeled graph with just the push of one key.

Unfortunately, such incidents happen fairly often, and more so now than back in 1999, when the above story took place.  I came across a quotation from Paul McCartney in a 2012 Rolling Stone interview where he said, "I just saw some Beatles program the other night, and in the first five minutes were four mistakes.  This is why we don't know who Shakespeare was, or what really happened at the Battle of Hastings." One would think that TV documentaries would be more reliable than random websites or even Wikipedia, but that Beatle's response to what he saw on the telly says that's not so.  It isn't just with rock legends; misinformation is everywhere, and there are plenty of people who are misinformed, but don't know that they are.

I'm pretty sure all of you reading this have gotten into an argument with someone.  Whether it was your spouse/significant other, your son/daughter, a co-worker, an friend or acquaintance, or anyone else, it was likely a result of two disagreeing parties, and it may have been that one or both of them believed something that wasn't actually true, but refused to see the error of his/her/their ways.  In the case of my sixth grade teacher, I didn't defend my case for fear of getting into trouble; in cases where that wasn't an issue, I fought long and hard to defend what I believed.  You may think that a smart guy like me would be in the right about most things, but there were many times where I was seriously wrong.  On the way back from church camp in 1998, my sister and I got into an argument because I had responded with insults to kids who had insulted me.  She mentioned the Golden Rule, and I said that it called for revenge; if they had called me names, didn't that "rule" give me the right to call them names as well? Later on, I realized that I'd sorely misunderstood it; when they said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," I heard, "Do unto others as they have done unto you."  It took me years to realize that, though, and it wasn't the last time I would get into an argument over something about which I was mistaken.

You all probably know that I talk about how being different is among my signature traits.  It's true that I'm unique...but, sometimes, that causes a problem.  When I look at others who are following the "traditional" way, I've been known to look down on them, thinking that my way is better than theirs.  It's true that people have praised my unique traits--my dedication to morally correct entertainment, my knowledge of the Bible, my ability to remember years-old stories in such detail, etc.--but that does not give me a right to feel that I'm superior to anyone else, because I'm sure most of you reading this can do things I myself can't.  Plus, that attitude is not conducive to making friends...or winning people over for Christ.  Though I realize that now, such a habit will be insanely hard to break.  Not only that, but, everyone talks about my lack of confidence being a problem...without realizing that such a habit is my attempt at having confidence! It may come off as pride, but, honestly, pride is nothing more than hyper-confidence, and we all know what the Bible says about pride!

I think the key here--for me, at least--is to not assume that I have all of the answers.  Even if I have information right from the source, sitting there trying to get someone else to believe me doesn't do me any good.  I'm reminded of a friend who once told me about an incident where a kid was complaining that her daughter wouldn't stop chasing him; her exact words were, "I told him: If he didn't run, she couldn't chase." Instead of trying to convince somebody else that he/she is wrong, it's best to just let it go; as the old Billy Joel song says, "You may be right; I may be crazy! You may be wrong, for all I know, but you may be right!" (What, you thought classic rock didn't have any merit?) It's one thing if it's a big deal, but, when it comes to trivial matters...why push it? There are enough problems on our planet without adding paltry affairs into the mix!

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