Contemplation: Voices of Reason
I like to try to be a voice of reason as much as I possibly can. I’ll admit, I do not always succeed as much as I would personally like to, because, let’s be honest, being a voice of reason is not easy. Personally, I’d like to think that a voice of reason is pretty self-explanatory, but for the sake of those who are unsure, here is my criteria and consideration for what qualifies one as a voice of reason.
- Somebody who doesn’t jump to quick conclusions. This is definitely a difficult thing to achieve. Our natural fight/flight responses to the world, make snap decisions easy, and often desirable, courses of action. However, there are many occasions when it is much better to slow down and think about things more carefully. If you are able to take a deep breath and start thinking about decisions and actions with care and consideration then you are doing a good job at working at being a voice of reason.
- Somebody who uses sound logic: Reason and logic go hand-in-hand. If your arguments and points rely on fallacious reasoning then, by default, you are not really being a voice of “reason” are you? This fact alone is really why I feel like logic should be a required subject for all high school students. Yeah, it might not be the most exciting of topics in many regards, but it does provide us with a means of reasoning responsibly, and recognizing both good and bad arguments.
- Someone who is accepting of evidence based facts: I think this kind of goes along with the previous, but to sum it up, I think that a good voice of reason is somebody who can recognize strong evidence of a fact. Furthermore, they are able to use these facts to strengthen their points and arguments.
- Someone who is able to articulate their points clearly: Okay, to be fair, there can be people who are very reasonable, but lack strong articulating skill. I don’t think these people are not reasonable, however, to be a “voice” of reason, I think it is a requirement that you must be able to express your reasoning in a understnable and accessible way (this could be verbally or written). Having strong communicating skills allows for points and arguments to be clearly conveyed and understood and thus contributes to the reasoning being presented.
- Someone who is willing to change their decisions/opinions/beliefs when new evidence deems it necessary: This is really important to me in regards to thinking of people as voices of reason. Let’s admit it, we all like to be right. However, it is not possible that we can all be right about our ideas and beliefs all the time. I think a person who is a strong voice of reason, is able to admit when they have been thinking wrongly, and then, with the admittance, are able to adjust their personal points and arguments to encompass the new information. A person who is a good voice of reason does not need to be right just for the sake of being “right,” instead, it is more important to these individuals that they are expressing things in a clear and well-reasoned way. Furthermore, while a person who is a voice of reason very obviously will have her own beliefs, ideas, and desires, she knows that she is not the all-knowing center of the universe, and that things may not always be the way she’d like them to be. Realities might not make her happy, but being a humble and reasonable person, she will accept and work with those things that challenge and stand in contrast with her own beliefs.
- Somebody who can maintain calmness and humbleness when faced with strong opinions/ideas/beliefs: I think this might be one of the hardest things to do. In the heat of the moment it can be really hard to remain calm and not just flip out on folks. Furthermore, it is hard not to let one’s feelings and pride get hurt and to lash out in a way that is contrary to true humbleness. I know I struggle with these things very often (I do not consider myself a very proud or easily angered person, but I know there are times I can very much be just that). Maintaining a degree of personal control, presenting a calm and respectful character, and being willing to admit one’s own failing or weaknesses, demonstrates that a person is more concerned with being reasonable than they are concerned about being “right” and “winning.”
Anyways, just some thoughts. Got to thinking about people who are voices of reason after reading John Scalzi’s recent takes on the whole Reddit/Gawker fight that’s been going down (here’s his first post, and here is his follow-up). I consider both of these pieces, as well as many other blog posts by Mr. Scalzi (hence why I enjoy reading his blog), to be great examples of voices of reason. There are others out there who do this well too. Hopefully my thoughts on the matter of voices of reason can help some people notice others. Hopefully it can help me continue to strive to be a good voice of reason myself.
Who are some people you’d consider as good voices of reason? Drop some names in the comments, I’d love to hear what folks think (but remember, this is a post on “reason” so, you know, maybe give some reasons for the names you drop. That’d be nice).