Very recently (as in the last hour) I was part of a debate about the connotation of words such as “help,” “save,” and “serve.” I listened as both sides debated over how these words diminish or increase people on either side of conversations using these words. Briefly I will present what was said about each of these just in case you are curious.
Help: Pro: We all need help from someone because we are not capable of doing everything on our own.
Con: The word help diminishes the person being helped.
Save: Pro: When someone is really down, they may need someone to literally lift them up. Religious connotation here as well.
Con: Once again, this word assumes that the person being saved is unable to help themselves when that may not be true. ex “Save Africa” Does Africa really need us to save them? Do they want us to save them?
Serve (This one seemed pretty safe to use, but apparently it can be bad as well.):
Pro: Humility on the perspective of the one serving.
Con: This word diminishes the person who is serving to a servant’s status.
While there were many other comments and many other words discussed, that is not the point of this post.
The problem is that I can see both sides of these arguments for or against these words. So my question is, if I can see both sides of the argument does that make me an undefined person or a caring person? This happens often to me, where I find myself agreeing with whoever I am talking to. Later I beat myself up because I realize that I do not really believe what I just agreed to. Usually the case is I haven’t really thought about what is being debated, so I simply agree.
Does that make me undefined?
I don’t think so. I do have opinions, but I think that by agreeing it shows that I am listening. I despise when I am talking to someone and as soon as I’m finished they launch into something in their own life without even acknowledging what I just said. Or if they immediately begin their defense argument without giving my argument any credit. It tells me that they weren’t really listening to what I was saying and that I have no chance of convincing them that what I say could be correct.
Typically when I agree with someone or nod, it is because I am saying “yes, I hear you.” It is not because I find what they say particularly enlightening or even true. I want them to realize that I do hear what they say and that I am considering it. Sometimes this does make me change my thinking about something, especially in situations where I haven’t given the topic much thought. Maybe that’s the point of conversation though? I think it is.