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January 31st, 2022

When we speak with someone about a contentious topic, there’s a single metric to gauge our own disadvantage: If you cannot anticipate the next thought and point of logic that your partner in dialogue will provide, then you fail to understand their point of view.


This might seem pedantic in the sense that one could - if given the time - come up with all reasonable manner of logic and argument for the other side. But this is also unrealistic. 


Instead, think of how incredible but ordinary it is for two close people to finish each other’s sentences. Here it makes sense. When two people spend enough time together it’s not unlikely for their minds to undergo a strange meld, where even from across a room, thoughts seem to be startlingly in sync.


Imagine having this kind of connection with the person whom you disagree with the most. This isn’t to say your agree with that person, but simply that you are so in tune with the method flow and content of their thought that you can intuit and anticipate their logic and argument with a startlingly high degree of accuracy.


Now, this is virtually unheard of in the real world. It’s only with intimate partners - or close partners of any kind that we grow to develop this kind of intuition. But, this is sort of where it’s needed the least.


It’s with the enemies across the isle, across the battlefield that we need it the most. Imagine being a general of an army and understanding your opposing general so intimately that you could anticipate their next move. It would enable you to win the war.


Intimacy is not a capacity that is or should be relegated to positive relationships. Like the nemesis characters of comic books or the villains of deep tragedies, these are characters deserving of intimacy - if not for the humble value of exploring the humanity incased in such being, but for the benefits accrued to our ability to navigate reality with them.


Understanding an enemy is a risky game. It requires a venture away from our regularly scheduled programing to try and attempt to understand programming far different from ourselves and maybe our culture. There is the risk of becoming convinced of such programming, and the true hero is one who can straddle both of these worlds without being intoxicated by either - the one who can venture into the darkness to become a part of it and return with whatever jewels the darkness hides.


The thoughts of others are what we fear the most, but also what we understand the least. To understand the thoughts of others is to dissipate that fear by embracing it, and by so doing understand whomever we deem an other.

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