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Change my mind

February 9th, 2004 · No Comments

Paul wrote a kind comment to my last entry, including this thoughtful excerpt:

I find that people only have to remind others that they don’t eat meat or watch TV when that’s the only thing the other person can talk about. Substitute drinking or shoplifting as the topics: I doubt most of us have a lot of shared experience there 😉 Is TV and meat-eating that essential to American life, or is that just the limited experience of some people?

Good point.

He also referred to Ted’s post from Sunday Fervor isn’t votes. I liked this piece too. From Ted’s conclusion:

So if you want to talk, go ahead and fill up mailing lists, newsgroups, web forums, and blogs. But if you want work to get done, learn to persuade. Take a good look at whether or not you have a good, relevant idea, and then take another look and see whether you, the messenger, have earned the trust of those you are trying to persuade.

I think, speaking from the experience Ted and I have had, the persuader is a powerful person whose character is crucial.

Then there’s the persuader. You can have a good idea, but if people don’t trust you, you may not be able to persuade them.

How my mind has been changed: The reason why I began to believe in marriage, enough to walk down the aisle myself and give my life to it, happened not through people trying to convince me with arguments, but when people opened their homes and lives to me, letting me see what it was like inside their family, inside their marriage. When I was in college, I wanted more variation in the company around me, more people than just my own peers, so I began spending time with some “older” families, who were in their thirties (gasp!) back then. Growing up with divorced parents, I didn’t think marriage had any validity. Why bother. It wasn’t on my plan for life or anywhere on my horizon. But as I got to know these families in our church, hanging out with them at their homes, even staying in one small apartment with one couple and their child, I saw that marriage was real and it worked. Sure, people can talk and there are plenty of reasons. Arguments and debates sometimes do change people’s mind. But I think the best proof is in the life and character of the persuader. My beliefs in marriage and motherhood, and my faith in God were all inspired by watching others lives.

Jay, in his post today, responding to my piece What I gave up for love wrote:

This is interesting because I’ve had the experience that many of my girlfriends have taken up vegetarianism (or tried veganism) after hanging out with me. I’m not sure if they do it because they want to avoid food battles or because my explanation of my beliefs sways them. Hmm?

I’ve never met Jay or any of his girlfriends. However I wonder if what happened with his girlfriends taking up vegetarianism or veganism was this power of being persuaded by the character of the persuader. It might be a mixture of both avoiding food battles and being swayed by his explanation of beliefs. For myself I know it was easier to just go along with Ted and eat whatever he ate.

But maybe too they simply liked Jay. After spending time around him, seeing who he was as a person, they were willing to take on his beliefs and live more of his lifestyle, becoming vegetarians or vegans themselves. I imagine Jay had earned the trust of these girls and so his message of not-meat-eating – and perhaps other beliefs as well- became easy for them to adopt. If I like someone, if I get a good glimpse into his or her life and see something solid, something real, then I am more open to believing whatever this person believes.

My neighbors now living in Central America are an example: people who live what they believe, and have convinced me by their lives to consider their choices. I’ve decided the next time I buy coffee (not that often since we don’t drink it!), I’ll buy the coffee that their organization produces instead of the Starbucks stuff, and I’ve been inspired by them to consider getting a worm bin and getting my bike back in shape too.

I think Love is the best proof of this persuasion. If someone really loves me, loves me selflessly, enough to give up and sacrifice for me, being patient with me beyond my mistakes and ugliness, hey, I’ll be persuaded. Love can change my mind any day.

Tags: journal