What if I’m wrong?

I used to curse a lot while driving. “Why is this idiot driving so slow? Can’t they move to the other lane?”, I’d complain.

On the other hand, there were occasions in which I’d be showing someone around town, and someone would scream or use their horns at me, and I’d think “Wow, what a douche! If you’re in a hurry just drive past me.”

I’m ashamed to say it took me quite a while to realize the irony there.

We are in a period of presidential elections here in Brazil, and this election has been extremely polarizing, much more than any other I’ve ever seen. This has triggered some extreme and visceral emotional reactions from me, and it is quite surprising the sheer amount of effort I have to take to respond rationally.

When I see something or talk to someone about it, I’m trying to intercept this automatic anger response and ask myself: “What if I’m wrong?”

I get angry because all these people can’t see what this candidate represents: the violence, the fascism, the prejudice! “Why can’t they see? Why can’t they understand?”

But what if I’m wrong?

What if this is not as bad as it seems? There are smart people making the opposite choice, so what’s their perspective? Since I’ve caught myself in this emotional cycle, I’ve been trying to follow and talk to people with the opposite opinion, and it can be quite enlightening.

If you feel very strongly about something, it helps to stop, breathe, and try to think from the opposite perspective. Whether or not you change your mind, you will at least learn something about yourself, and learn more about the idea you’re defending.

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