Markus Gull

Why you should just not agree with me?

The fact that we explain the world to ourselves and to each other with stories does not mean that these stories are rooted in the same reality for everyone. Especially not when it comes to the mini-stories we serve ourselves and continue to serve up - warmed up over generations - our beliefs, which we often take unreflectively at face value.


In the blogcast, I read this recent blog article to you. With emphasis, of course!

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One of my favorite stories from this collection is the one about the search for truth. That's what we all want: to find the truth, to know it, to spread it, and so on.

It seems to me, though, that the truth behind the story about truth is that we're really not interested in truth at all, but in being right, aren't we? As a fertile and fat field research field for this theory, I recommend once again the spewing in the comment feeds of online news portals and in social media, with special attention to Twitter, in case you are not afraid of anything. Or even simpler: remember the public debates around Corona. That's when everyone knew everything, even though no one knew anything.

Honestly: How much of what we call facts today and therefore know, we already knew in the past, just factually quite different? Quite a lot! Please call me once in 250 years so that we look at ourselves what we will know then about what we know today and who was right. Who already knows something?

The famed screenwriter and multiple Oscar® winner Socrates famously said of the rules for what will succeed in Hollywood, "I know that I know nothing," paraphrasing the ancient Greek philosopher William Goldman's phrase: "Nobody knows anything." - Or was Socrates the philosopher and Goldman the writer? What do I know ...

Is there anything more beautiful than being right? Possibly, namely: to have been right after all, because you "would have said it right away, but ...". Wonderful, isn't it?

What irritates me the most about bossiness is the rampant epidemic of being right. You talk to someone about this and that, state a thesis, tell about an observation, express an opinion, offer a new perspective, and get echoed: "I agree with you there!" or "I don't agree with you there!"

How does that work?

I mean, we can easily agree on one thing: You can only give what you have. So, if someone agrees with you, it means that he is right, once he is right in principle, unquestioned - and therefore he can be right or not. To be able to speak right, to recognize right.

To be right is like to be right, only more perfidious. Because the right-holders raise themselves with it over others, their opinion, view, cognition and in one equal themselves over others put: "I am right, and you calibrate your contribution at my primal meter." The ultimate presumption! (And I'm not talking about facts here, mind you, but, hm ... facts: well, see above ...)

We convey more about ourselves through our language than we are aware of. The subtext always resonates - sent unconsciously, received subconsciously. It is through the subtext that the character reveals itself. Subtext is the only thing actors can play in dialogues. Otherwise they would only recite text, i.e. pass on information. If you consciously listen to the grandiose dialogues in films penned by Aaron Sorkin, you'll see in no time what subtext does. We often say more between the lines than in the words.

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Being right and being right are components of that old story that we have been telling ourselves for really all too long now. This old story goes like this: good fights against evil, right fights against wrong - the good must win, and right must prevail. And just to be clear, we are the good guys and therefore the rightful contenders for victory!

There's basically nothing to say against the fact that the good wins. But what is the good, and who wins if there is more than one good? Freedom or security? Speed or consistency? Trust or control?

Is one hundred percent of something good the best? - One hundred percent freedom - no more traffic rules, for example - is that ideal? Is it not a question of either/or, but of balance?

Yes, this old story of duality, of Manichaeism, as we old Persians like to say, has a massive construction error. Because consistently thought to the end it leads to an everyone-against-everyone, because all stories we tell ourselves are always shaped by our own perspective. Marcus Aurelius, one of the ever-popular stoics, put it in a nutshell: "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." In any case, if we understand this, we enrich our conversations with the complementary.

So we urgently need a new story, a better one than this old worn-out one, a New Story. Let's borrow a wise thought from Hannah Arendt: "Truth only comes in twos." For our own truth, we always need the voice of the other as well, otherwise even our self-talk will all too quickly become narrow-minded nonsense.

In any case, such a possible truth begins with a cultural technique that has gone out of fashion and deserves to be resuscitated: Listening. Listening to understand, not to answer, not to be right or to be right.

Understood does not mean agreed, but "to understand everything is to forgive everything", Madame Germaine de Staël told us, by which could be meant first of all the release from a debt, which in turn does not mean relativizing or approving. To understand and to forgive means to come to the same level of the eyes and the heart. And this would already be a wonderful beginning for a new story, one that does not begin with "Once upon a time ..." but with "Once upon a time." This story lets us grow in the best possible direction, namely beyond ourselves, into truthfulness.

You don't always have to take sides and agree with them. One can also agree or disagree. You don't have to evaluate in order to classify, you don't have to define yourself by being right or being right. Because right, if so, is mostly my grandmother, old Story Dudette, especially with her wise words with which she always greeted Hannah Arendt for coffee: "New Story. New Glory."

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