I have recently replied to a comment online and I believe it’s worth it to share it in my blog, since it may help others as well.
These are some lessons I learned in life, and which I’m still learning and trying to accomplish every day. That’s not an easy task, but it’s rewarding to put them into practice whenever possible. They are valid for everyone, consider yourself a believer, an atheist, christian, Jew, scientist, skeptic, agnostic, etc.
These are my pieces of advice (not rules, just advice):
- never reply to an argument without first reading, reflecting, and using it against yourself:
we many times have the tendency to quickly reply to others based on our own knowledge, because “we already know the answer”, and that question goes against our beliefs;
- there will always be someone who knows better than you:
even if we know a topic extremely well, there will always be (no exception) someone who has wider knowledge about the same topic (no, I’m not talking about myself). There’s no living person in this World who knows everything about all subjects. That’s why many scholars from several different areas work everyday as a team to share all they know so that together they can get to a tiny percentage of the truth. This is only possible when everyone admits they cannot master knowledge. Someone very wise may have given you knowledge (pastor, priest, scientist, professor, rabi, parents), but someone gave it to them, and someone else gave it to this person, and so on… and someone may be wrong along the way;
- never put everyone into the same group:
we are diversified, we have different experience, distinct knowledge, and different cultures. When we say “the atheists”, or “the Christians”, we ignore the fact that many atheists greatly differ in opinion, as well as many Christians don’t agree with each other and share similar thoughts to the ones of atheists, or Jews, or Catholics, etc. Thus, avoid generalization, specially if you don’t know the person you’re talking about very well;
- no matter how much of a believer or an atheist are you – or any other religion or denomination -, you are a human being and share the same planet with others; thus, it’s your obligation to respect and to care about others:
this includes not mocking nor despising others because of what they believe. Some people do it in a very low level, thinking and talking to themselves, while others use social networks to make comments (where they can be straightforward without compromising their integrity – and safety). There are, though, people who go to a much higher level: when they have power, they turn this point into wars, or inquisitions. However, people are important! We all are!
- knowledge is nothing without wisdom:
wisdom is knowing how to deal with knowledge, or simply not using it. Many times the wisest thing to do is to stay quiet;
- consider yourself wrong as much as possible:
when we consider the possibility that we’re wrong, we open our minds to correction and to complete what is missing. If you believe in God: “God will show you more about the truth if you let Him do it (don’t worry, God will not blame you for questioning Him).” If you don’t believe in God: “your work will have greater enlightenment and a larger space for facts. If you’re indeed right, this exercise will be worth it anyway.”
These points apply not only to beliefs and religions, but to all areas in life, including politics, medicine, family, etc.
By following them, I strongly believe that the life of many will be better: not only of those who follow such points, but also of those who surround them.