Persuasion and Progress


You want the world to be a better place, and so do I. However, we probably don’t agree on exactly what “better” means or how it can be realized. Now what?

Well, a rather uncivilized thing to do would be to use threats and violence to impose my ideas on you.

Alternatively, I could offer you my perspective and see how we might work together to accomplish our goals. If we can’t find enough common ground to work together on that topic right now, I can reach out to others in my sphere of influence and cooperate with those who choose to do so.

The Marketplace of Ideas and Values

There is a marketplace for ideas and values just like there is for cheese and web design services.

The scientific community relies on the marketplace of ideas to test theories and share results in the pursuit of knowledge. You may not be interested in participating in every research endeavor, and you may not draw the same conclusions from the results. Still, the quest for empirical understanding marches on and you are free to ignore or consider all kinds of theses and hypotheses.

There is also a marketplace of values. Do you value material wealth? Mental health? Spiritual harmony? Assistance to those in need? It is likely a unique mix of these things (and many others), and you make choices based on your values that determine how you spend your time and resources.

In any case, you are free to disagree or change your mind in a market at any time. It’s important to recognize that people can change. It’s never too late to open your mind and follow your heart.

If you want to influence others, you ought to use persuasion. Persuasion is the tool of those who help, teach, and inspire. Aggression is the tool of those who harm, control, and exploit.

When People Disagree

It’s easy to respect choice when people agree with you. What do you do when people choose things you disagree with? Do you personally or politically force them to obey against their will? What you do when people disagree with you reveals your true character. To claim the moral high ground while advocating aggression is the height of hypocrisy.

If you can’t think of anything better to do than force people to obey, you are part of the problem. I urge you to recognize that there is no legitimate use of violence against peaceful people. Use your energy to discover peaceful solutions and cooperate to make the world a better place.

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