Take the time to understand others' points of view.

Take the time to understand others' points of view.

There is a great deal of controversy on the internet at any given time, but the postings between people we should be working with are getting to the point where they are troubling.  Heated rhetoric, personal attacks, and just out and out anger are more commonplace now then ever.

I posted this on my Firefighter Nation profile the other day in response to some of the discussions I have seen on other blogs lately.  If there’s anything I learned from doing research, is that even the military has come to understand that if combatants don’t appreciate adversary culture, they are likely to make assumptions that could jeopardize their mission. As a result, enlightened commanders take the time to immerse themselves in cultural education and counterintelligence to fully comprehend the aspect in which an adversary may approach a problem.  As a born cynic, my first viewpoint was that the understanding could be utilized to manipulate weakness or strength to be used against one’s adversary, but as I have grown older (and hopefully, wiser), I have found that in conflict management, many arguments could be simply defused by just toning down the language and accepting others’ viewpoints for what they are: opposing viewpoints.

This text was shared with me by a friend some time ago, but I wanted share it with you all in the hopes that maybe it could provide some perspective:

(Paraphrased from Dhammavadaka):

Remember always that you are just a visitor here, a traveler passing through. Your stay is but short and the moment of your departure unknown.

Speak quietly and kindly and be not forward with either opinions or advice. If you talk much, this will make you deaf to what others say, and you should know that there are few so wise that they cannot learn from others.

Be near when help is needed, but far when praise and thanks are being offered.

Take small account of might, wealth and fame, for they soon pass and are forgotten. Instead, nurture love within you and and strive to be a friend to all. Truly, compassion is a balm for many wounds.

Treasure silence when you find it, and while being mindful of your duties, set time aside, to be alone with yourself.

Cast off pretense and self-deception and see yourself as you really are.

Despite all appearances, no one is really evil. They are led astray by ignorance. If you ponder this truth always you will offer more light, rather then blame and condemnation.

Maybe some of you will take this for what it is worth and be a little less likely to fight with one another. Maybe you will continue to disregard any advice toward making peace with your brother firefighters and EMTs. But maybe if some of us kept our mouths shut and listened more, we might learn something. And further, maybe we need to be tolerant with some of the newbies and try to encourage their learning.

There is always a place for understanding the culture and approach of others, because you can then frame your discussion in terms which they can understand.  Be more open to ideas and accepting of others, and in the end, you will reach them because you can appreciate where they are coming from and they will appreciate that you took their sides under consideration.


  • backstepfirefighter says:

    Great post Mick, and great suggestions for perspective. Quality constructive dialogue seems to have two basic parts making a solid foundation: a honest front (similar to the actual name, instead of anonymous or user names, rule that Brotherhood Instructors uses in its blog site); and personal discipline. The advances and availability to media allow us to see nearly every fireground fault and achievement, yet so long as you and I are not members of said department, or served by it, then our comments and suggestions can only carry so much weight. That is a big realization that many readers fail to understand. I’ve seen it a lot regarding nearly everything that is Prince George’s County; the number of vehement posts from people with huge agendas and directives on how to ‘straighten out’ the department, from readers not even in the county, let alone the state.

    A comment, or blog post as a comment, can only carry so much value. Writers and readers should reassure themselves that in the grand scheme, actual comments are small when compared to the number of firefighters across the country; sites, forums and even blogs have their own subculture and cliques (as well as bullies and fans); and if one person understands the message, then the writing was a success.

    Remember, Anonymous will always be a kick-ass firefighter.

    Bill Carey

  • Dennis Rambo says:

    Wow, it’s amazing how things make their way to places and people you never imagined they would. My journey to becoming a more compassionate and understanding being led me to read, study and absorb the words and teachings of others who’s views and outlook I admire. Through Facebook I have shared some of what I have come to learn and to see and hear from friends that these things have made a difference in their lives is extremely humbling and eye-opening.

    “When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable.” Thich Nhat Hanh

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