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Changing My Mind

I'm in the midst of sorting through a controversial issue. It seems that some of the controversy arises from each side forming an opinion of the opposition without any direct interaction. If they just talked, they still might not agree, but would at least have a better understanding of their differences. This could open the path to some sort of compromise and avoid catastrophe.

Entering a discussion looking for compromise, I imagine my uncle telling me, is looking for defeat. If one is willing to sacrifice a belief so readily, is that belief (or that person) even worth defending?

In this current controversy, I know what I believe. A friend of mine has arranged for me to meet a member of the opposition, saying, "when you meet him, you'll change your mind." I do not expect this fellow has Svengali charisma, so why might I change my mind?

Because not only do I know what I believe, I know why I believe it. If I am presented with new information or better reasoning, I will be compelled to change my position. Understanding not only what, but why, allows me to carry a strong conviction while being open to compromise.

Keeping the why in mind helps one avoid clinging to notions that have been proven foolish. It also helps in defending a view against the range of non-logical attacks which comprise *civic debate*. Further, understanding the foundations of a belief helps set a limit on compromise. I can concede the type of siding, but insist on the size of the house.

As I anticipate the meeting, a focus on what leads me to a presumption that we are enemies defining our differences. Keeping the why alive suggests we might be allies who have yet to discover our similarities. Perhaps we will both change our minds.