I think it’s fair to say, anyone who has ever met me and of course known me for any time at all would characterize me as being a little stubborn. Once I have something set in my mind about what anything should or should not be, I’m almost impossible to convince otherwise. In my defense, I spent inordinate amounts of time searching for an answer before setting my mind to a point. Therefore, I’m a little stubborn when it comes to what I think, and how I interpret what is happening. I will also argue, as my mom has stated for years, “with a brick wall, if he thinks he can win”. True as well, I’m not satisfied with listening to anyone’s point which carries either a logical fallacy, or clearly hasn’t been thought out well. This is a common phrase I hear from people when I talk about something and proceed to enter a deeper thought stream regarding the point, “I don’t know, I just don’t think about things that deeply, most people don’t look at it that way!”. At this point, I almost can’t see straight with the ludicrousness with the phrase just spoken to me. Whereby I will begin to start justifying why I do what I do, and hope (at least in the back of my mind), they nod and say, ‘you know what, you’re right, I was wrong in how I perceived things my whole life”. So, this is a mountain of stubbornness, I’ve been working on most of my life. I think people could agree, stubbornness can be good in some instances, and because of a prideful affect detrimental in other situations. I want to write a little on just what these have done to really create a positive and negative situation in my life, and perhaps we have similar stories.
From the earliest age I can remember, I could think fast, and usually fast enough to have a quick-witted, and usually unkind response to anything anyone stated. Sometimes, my responses were met with laughter and other times a look of awkwardness on the faces of people standing near me as if I’d relieved myself completely unawares. In fact, I’ve made a true ass of myself so many times, I qualify some statements to people with a phrase, “I hope what I’m about to say isn’t offensive to you”. Over the years, I’ve taken a more rigid and institutional look at my opinions as they pertain to my discussions and found, if I don’t have any experience and I’m not well read on the topic, it’s probably best I keep the information to myself. This has given me great results over the last few years, but I still step in it from time-to-time. What I will say is, because I’ve tripped up so many times in the past, I feel as if I’ve got a good point of reference when talking to my kids. I can literally see what they’re doing and remember when I did the same thing, and I can tell them (not that they listen that much) not to do whatever it is they’re going to do. My stubbornness in its infancy has created a stubborn need to keep pursuing a correctness and in some way perfection to “get it right”. Nowadays, I would rather read ten books about a topic before talking about it, because I don’t want to be embarrassed again. I think we can all reason with this in some small way, no one wants to be humiliated because they didn’t think something out properly and were eviscerated by another’s argument to a point, the scar can still be felt a decade later.
I feel like stubbornness is like a mutant power from the X-Men and all I’ve needed to do was harness it. Of course, this is a silly notion on the surface, but when we delve a little deeper, we see truly everything should be something like this notion of expertise. I have natural ability to argue, or at least pick a side and think cogent thoughts to make my point. I don’t always convince, but at the same time, they don’t walk away from the table saying to themselves, I have no idea what he was saying. However, at the same time, I spend more time stirring up whatever it is I’m talking about, instead of true points of conviction being harnessed. My stubborn nature finds this to be a goal worthy of pursuing, but not at the cost of anything or anyone else. I can see the same nature in my children when they want me to allow them to do something, I otherwise said, “no”, to and I’m asking them to convince me.
All of this is less of an attempt to show anyone I know what I’m talking about, than to raise the question, “Are we satisfied with cultural status quo, and are we better served to leave things as they are or search for an objective truth?”. On the surface when I ask people about this, they always say, “objective truth, of course”; however, when they are confronted with the actual objective truth, they tend to shy away and back track. It seems the truth has a way of confronting anyone, especially if their beliefs are wrong, or their understandings are completely inaccurate, of exposing them and at the same time in the silence of their minds shaming them. Who wants to be shamed, I sure as heck don’t, so like many people, I myself have run the opposite direction of truth many times.
However, do we have the stubbornness to eventually accept, we were wrong, and then to move in the direction of truth, no matter what castigating vitriol we must face to get the truth we seek? Take for instance our political climate we deal with from day-to-day, currently we have three relevant perspectives. All three have in their own ways valid points of view, and all three have relevant areas of needed development. For many years I tottered with an idea where I would look to the most relevant at any given time, but the problem with looking at things this way makes subjectivity (my truth) the qualifier. This never works, because my subjectivity could change from day-to-day, as many people’s perspectives do in our ever-changing cultural landscape. In this case, what does a man of faith do? Do I hang on to a platitude as a common phrase spoken, or do I challenge myself to pursue the objective. Since asking myself this question many years ago, I’ve concluded (see why I’m so stubborn), objectivity is the only way to pursue anything at all. This means, principles must be adhered to, and objectivity is always the pursuit of truth in everything. We should be stubborn about this. We should always apply a litmus test, which when it doesn’t pass, the point is cast aside until another can challenge and defeat the point we now possess. The great thing about objective truth as we pursue this understanding with our completely stubborn nature is, it is what it is and we can see in the entirety a fairer way will never be met past a certain point.
Take for instance an argument where one player takes an argument to a valid extreme, but the other player, because of recognition of the truth which has just been exposed fails to acknowledge this truth and either ridicules or dismisses what was stated almost immediately. So, out of stubbornness, because the first player sees the truth, they try again, and once again the second player refuses the attempt. Is it at this point, player one should relinquish their pursuit or continue to challenge? In my experience, player one should stop, otherwise their stubborn need to be right will subvert anything they could hope to attain through this conversation. Ideas are seeds meant to be planted in the mind of another, if they are truthful, all ever need be done is to plant and leave alone. If we continue to pursue without changing our perspective we, risk uprooting whatever has been done. Therefore, in an argument, an extreme case should always be offered to meet the extreme confines of the paradigm, and if shown not to destroy the argument, you’ve attained a truth, at least within the argument. Maintaining this principle out of stubborn pride, is wrong, but maintaining this principle out of a stubborn need for a pursuit of objectivity is right.
So how do we know when we should pump the brakes or continue ahead? Are there warning signs to let us know when we may be taking it too far? Of course, there are warning signs, but generally experience is the only way to recognize, unless we get a “life” coach and the coach can be with us every day of the week and will sit back quietly to watch our actions, and based on their experience will only speak up when they can see us going awry with our actions. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I think this would be a silly notion. Which usually leads to another parallel, as smart as people may be, there is no substitution of experience. Thinking one’s way out of a situation is terrific, but only one theoretical point of view is grasped within this convention of solution. When we hire, or promote anyone with experience to a position of leadership or coaching, we are really looking for a successful track record of experience which will allow for difficult situations to occur, as they do in anything, but to have a leader at the helm who knows exactly how to handle them. Within most police departments there is usually a minimum amount of time before anyone can be considered a supervisor, not because an effort to discriminate is prevailing, but simply a matter of time must exist for a potential candidate to attain supervisory levels needs the experience to handle what ultimately, they will need to know when faced with similar situations under their watch. I think it would be a good use of stubbornness to continue an effort holding to a standard such as this; when we allow some levels of hubris to enter our stubborn pursuits, we will always fall short of any glory we hope to have.
I will admit, in the last couple of weeks, I’ve taken my stubbornness superpower to the very next level. In my attempt to teach my children and a husband to my loving wife, I’ve failed miserably. I’ve been so stubborn as not to take the advice of my wife or recognize the imploring needs of my children for one thing or another. It’s so easy to write off what I do, or rather what any of us do as a matter of course or in the end, we never meant to achieve such dubious goals in life. Though with much thought, I must admit, I failed them at this point, and it’s up to me to make it better. I was fortunate to listen to a wonderful homily given by our local priest, and his explanation of fear was one of the best I’ve ever heard. His exemplification of the normal paradigm we all face was our lack of doing what is right comes from the innate fear we have for whatever it is we attempt. His point was rather, if we fail to do anything at all, it has more to do with our own failure to attempt to accomplish a goal, and saying to ourselves, “I’m no good for any of this, so why even try”. So, in retrospect, we fear the change of life, so we subordinate ourselves to being stubborn, so in futility we hope we can stop time by saying “no”. This is where I’ve been for the last couple of weeks, my focus has been on me and what I want, rather than sacrificing my time for God.
So, if you will forgive my absence from writing over the last couple weeks, and if you will accept my confession of selfishness and the stubborn pursuit of “me”.
At the end of the day, no one person is immune to a condition of stubbornness; the real question happens to be more a matter of do we have the self-reflective ability to change our ways when we can see the bigger picture and realize our actions are going nowhere. Being able to step back from whatever paradigm we happen to live in and look at outside influences and apply a healthy principled foundation to whatever decision we make will help all of us be better men, fathers, and husbands. Our roles in this world require of us a tremendous responsibility, so being stubborn until you have the full objective truth is an absolute must. Don’t ever bend to the feelings of society, especially when you know those subjective feelings can turn on you in an instant. May God bless you and your family!!!
God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good!!!