There is a question in my mind that has arisen as the result of the update to yesterday’s post from my friend Claire, engineer and holy-woman:
If I was asked if I was passive or dominant, 20 years ago, what did I say? Claire pointed out that we may have been asked if we were “calm” rather than “passive”. I’d probably have gone for that. I’m usually calm on the outside. Is “aggressive” the opposite of “passive”? What about “opinionated” or “arrogant”? I can appear/be both of those.
Such questionnaires are not only foolish by their pseudo-binary nature but answers can also ‘swing’ between 0 and 1 on the subtleties of language and its interpretation or whether we even care enough to pay attention. In every survey, there is room for chaos to creep in.
Was I passive? Only ever up to a point. There have always been behaviours ‘up with which I will not put’. And now? Even less so. I know more, have more experience and see the signs that something is going wrong earlier and will speak up. I have less time left and don’t want it wasted but I have a renewed appetite for learning and exploring new ideas. I’ve learned to test both what I know and what I think by expressing my opinions and attempting to defend them.
Do I argue to dominate? I’m not sure I even argue to win. I use ‘debate’ to try to find out what is true, in precisely the way politicians don’t. I can discuss things from a position of either ignorance or conviction but the aim is to come out knowing more about something than when I went in. If the other person comes out knowing more too then we’ve both won.
I was lucky enough over the last few years to have had someone as a sparring partner who enjoys arguing competitively, sometimes without any belief in what he is saying and certainly without believing that any absolute truths exists. He wasn’t easily offended. I’m worried that I’ve frightened a few people lately, by trying to provoke similar discussions to help me find out what I believe.
Do I try to be ‘dominant’ now? Only when people are Wrong on the Internet, and I always try to keep in mind that it might be me, however sure of myself I seem.