I am quite tired today because I spent two hours in a ridiculous argument with a friend. It started out as a simple conversation in which we were catching up and turned into something rather ugly.
In the midst of a discussion about the government shutdown he went off on a rant that was based on what he thought he heard and not upon what I said.
As I sat there listening I wondered if old Abe ever had a similar experience.
People Listening Without Hearing
I was tempted to page Mr. Simon and Mr. Garfunkel because the beginning of the disagreement started when my friend cut me off during a story about something I read on Facebook and went ballistic because I didn’t agree with him.
Those of you who know me well are aware that I hate being cut off. Â No one likes it very much, but it is a hot button with me. If you cut me off midstream you are telling me that my story/thoughts aren’t as important as yours.
If you don’t have time to talk than tell me you don’t have time and I’ll understand. Send me an email or text to let me know you are thinking of me and then call when you have a moment.
I see moments like last night as proof of the problems that come from not listening.
The genesis of the disagreement began when I told him about a Facebook post where someone wrote no one should ever be a billionaire and then used inaccurate math to prove their point.
The point I had wanted to make was that anger, misinformation and a lack of real conversation was causing chaos but when my friend heard billionaire he lost it.
No One Should Be A Billionaire
He went nuts because I told him I disagreed and I didn’t think it was impossible for someone to become a billionaire under fair and equitable terms. I said I thought I someone could earn it and he ranted about the disparity of wealth and how no one should ever earn that much more than others.
When he refused to listen to my side I egged him on a bit but I didn’t say anything I don’t believe. He made blanket statements and suggested that the gardener and janitor work harder than any millionaire and suggested that anyone who was wealthy inherited it, got lucky or made it on the backs of others.
Some people are lucky. They are born into wealth or they come up with an idea and good timing but that doesn’t mean they are bad people.
And some people just work their asses off, save, invest and manage their money well. If you do that it is impossible to turn a couple of bucks into something more and do it in an ethical way.
But he insisted it was wrong because someone built a foundation to make it possible for them to do that. Â I hear what he is saying, but I thought at some point you give people credit for the work they do. Most success is built upon prior success and that doesn’t automatically devalue it.
What You Deserve and What You Earn
It’s worth mentioning I think there is a slippery slope here. When you start deciding what is fair and how much people need/deserve you get into an area that makes me uncomfortable.
It is also worth mentioning I’d like to more equitable taxation so we are all paying the same proportion. Pay people a minimum wage that is enough to live on and I’ll be happier too.
But I don’t particularly cotton to trying tell someone that they don’t need a $80,000 car or a 10,000 SQF mansion because perspective is relative and those are the kinds of decisions that can bite you later.
The disparity of wealth concerns me and I am always interested in trying to have as a level a playing field as possible but I also recognize that luck isn’t always involved.
Some people work harder. Some people make smarter decisions and they shouldn’t necessarily be penalized for that either. A rising tide lifts all ships but it doesn’t translate in every possible way.
One Last Thing
I don’t need my friends and relatives to agree with me on every thing, in fact I prefer they don’t. I like differing points of view and having my thoughts challenged.
I just don’t like wasting time in a stupid fight because someone wasn’t listening and being told that because I disagree I am uninformed. Difference of opinion doesn’t always mean one purpose is right and the other is wrong. Sometimes both sides can be wrong because they are both misinformed.