Uncomfortable reading is most often the most important kind, which is why having an open mind is one of the most useful skillsets a person can have because only a person with an open mind can stomach reading which makes them uncomfortable.
Yet an open mind in the modern world is starting to become quite an elusive thing, and even among those people who think themselves to have an open mind in actual fact many at best only have a partially open mind. Or rather they are open-minded about some things but not others.
In some cases this can be a good thing, for example having an open mind about whether it is right for a person to commit murder is not a good thing. But not having an open mind about the person who committed the murder and why they committed it, and how they were able to commit it is a bad thing.
For example, if we just assume the person is plain evil from the get go we would fail as a society to understand why murder happens. Which would be bad because how can we stop murders from happening in the first place if we don’t understand why people commit murder.
More importantly than that, how are we ever going to capture people who commit murder and hold them accountable for their crimes if we do not understand how they are able to commit murder? This means we have no choice but to look at those who commit murder and accept that no matter how uncomfortable it may make us feel that some of them are highly talented and skilled individuals.
That means we have to respect the abilities of those who are skilled at committing murder, because if we do not we will never gain the necessary skills to stop them committing murder in the first place, or should we fail in stopping them the necessary skills needed to capture them and hold them accountable for their crimes.
No doubt the thought of giving those who are skilled in committing murder a hint of credit for how good they are at it is an especially uneasy thought process. But it is also the key to defeating such people namely because if you don’t respect the abilities of those you oppose then is inevitable that those you oppose will defeat you.
But the question is how do you learn to open your mind to the point that you are able to hear such uncomfortable realities, namely that the people you hate or find lamentable may actually have a method to their madness?
“If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”― Sun Tzu
For me the key to having an open mind is learning to understand just how open your mind presently is, that means if you want to learn how to have a more open mind you must first learn just how open your mind currently is, and the best way to do this is to rate just how capable you are of hearing people praise those that you find lamentable.
And I am not talking the evil monsters of the world, I am talking that work colleague that you hate or that politician that you hate. For example take Donald Trump, he is an extremely divisive figure, many love him while many hate him. What is interesting is how many of those who hate him refuse to give him any sort of credit for anything, and refuse to even countenance the idea that he may be a highly intelligent man.
But you don’t become the president of the United States unless you are a very clever man, and Donald Trump love him or hate him is a very clever man. For starters he is the indisputable king of Twitter, and more than that he has a brilliant knack for being able to not just listen to what those who support him are saying, but to actually hear what they are saying.
This allows him to identify what his ground support see as problems, for example immigration from South America was a factor that Trump readily picked up upon, and what makes Trump such a powerful figure among his support is once he identifies what his ground support sees as a problem, he offers a solution. For example build the wall.
Whether you agree with immigration from South America being a problem or not in the United States is irrelevant to the point, also irrelevant is whether you think building a wall is a good solution or not, the point is a large number of people believed it was a problem, Trump identified this and offered a solution.
So Trump listened, identified something which a large number of people believed was a problem, then offered a solution. And this is a very powerful and clever method to gain the support of a large number of people.
And Trump consistently employed this method throughout his presidency, Trump supporters will give him praise for this while those who oppose Trump will find giving him any credit at all an extremely uneasy if not infuriating notion. They will likely find it even harder to accept that his ability to do this deserves respect.
Respect though is a funny word, you can respect a person without respecting them. For example imagine a boxer, this boxer absolutely hates the person he is going to fight, has no respect for him whatsoever. In this guy’s mind his opponent is a horrible person and because he is a horrible person is clearly a rubbish boxer and so deserves no respect or credit of any sort.
Considering he thinks like this if his opponent is a highly effective fighter what are the odds that he stands any chance of actually winning this fight against this person who he believes deserves no credit. For a boxer to win a fight he has absolutely no choice but to pay his opponent absolute respect, specifically in regards to his talents as a boxer.
He may hate everything about this person, find everything that they stand for completely and entirely lamentable and absolutely hate the way that they do things, but he still has no choice but to respect his opponent’s talents as a boxer, for should he not do so then the inevitable result would be him losing the fight.
That means for our boxer to win the fight he does not need to respect his opponent as a person but he most definitely needs to respect his fighting capabilities. Bringing the point back to Donald Trump, it is arguable that he was not respected as an opponent in the first election by the Democrats which helped contribute to his victory, but in the follow-up election the same mistake was not made twice.
But Trump is divisive, which means that there are many people who like him and many who dislike him. And even those who dislike him, greatly dislike him even, will likely be able to tolerate accepting that at least in some ways he might be a clever guy.
But what about those who are so evil that even the thought of giving them any respect or credit makes the blood boil. What about a man like for example Adolf Hitler? Hitler’s skills as an orator arguably are on par if not even superior to that of Winston Churchill’s, which is of course why Hitler was able to rally the German people to his cause.
His skills as a public speaker are so extraordinary that it is likely if he was not such an evil person his name would be the main subject of every public speaking course on the planet. In fact Adolf Hitler if he was broken down into a sum of parts, and his genocidal side was removed and replaced with a side of honour and integrity with everything else left as it is, would in all probability have gone on to become one of the greatest leaders in world history.
That most likely makes for extremely uncomfortable reading, but that is exactly the point, to gain a proper understanding of reality requires an open mind, and no mind that is open can ever avoid the fact that should they want to form a rounded view of any subject half of the realities that they study will make for uncomfortable reading. And a portion will make for extremely uncomfortable reading.
But it is exactly those type of realities that we must embrace because in doing so we gain the ability to, just like that boxer, know our enemy’s strength which in turn gives us the ability to defeat him or her.
Not just that but by studying the strengths of people like Hitler, and using what we can learn from them for good instead of evil we make it harder for evil to rise again. For example, take Hitler’s army, the Wehrmacht. The common perception of this army is that of an efficient robotic machine in which the soldiers are in effect mindless sheep who comply with every command as if it were decreed by God himself.
But this is completely and entirely wrong, the Wehrmacht are arguably man for man the most effective fighting unit in the history of mankind, and the reason they were so effective is because they were the absolute opposite of a robotic mindless machine. The Wehrmacht understood the need for the commanders on the battlefield to have the freedom to come up with their own plans, and long before Mike Tyson coined the famous phrase, everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face, the Wehrmacht taught that no plan was much use beyond the first move.
That means rather than mindlessly following orders, Wehrmacht commanders were given control on the battlefield specifically around how to achieve their orders, for example if a battalion were ordered to take a village, it would be left to the battalion commander to come up with a plan for how to take that village. Not only that the commander would be told the reason for why the village needed to be taken, for example perhaps to block the enemy’s advance.
Because of this if the commander discovered a means to block the enemy’s advance other than by just taking the village, for example by blowing up a bridge, he would have the power to be able to apportion troops to blow up that bridge, greatly benefiting the war effort.
And the military freedom stretched even further than this, because rather than soldiers of the Wehrmacht being expected to remain silent and compliant, they were to an extent allowed to question the plans and commands of their superiors.
Which means that rather than mindless robots the soldiers of the Wehrmacht were arguably the most freethinking in regards to battle strategy of any in history. Or rather the Wehrmacht were an army which practised critical thinking, something which the Allied armies in comparison allowed very little of.
This is why the Wehrmacht despite deserving zero respect for their intentions and behaviour, deserve every respect for their ability as a military force. And it is because the allied forces gave them such respect that they and thus Hitler were eventually defeated.
Meaning without the ability to give credit to the most evil force which has ever existed on Earth for their fighting ability, we could never have beaten them. Which is why keeping an open mind and making certain that you retain the ability to respect the abilities of those you oppose, to give them their credit for those abilities no matter how uncomfortable it makes you in doing so, is so important.
Because if you do not, just like that boxer who refused to give the abilities of his opponent respect, you will suffer knockout blow after knockout blow. And just to finish on an interesting fact, the Israeli army when it was founded after the end of World War II was the army that most learned the lessons from the German army in regards to the power of individual initiative, and in doing so became one of the most effective fighting units on the planet.
And if that’s not the greatest example of the power of respecting the skills of your enemy so as to empower yourself, I don’t know what is. And the only way to learn the powers of your enemy is to learn the power of coping with the most uncomfortable of notions, and that is that that person you hate and find lamentable in every way may just be a genius.
That’s all from me for today, stay safe!