Have You Had an 'nth' Talk?

Have you ever had a discussion, dialogue or debate with someone, and suddenly realized that not only were you not getting anywhere with this person, but you realized this person is not capable of getting anywhere with anyone who doesn't see things "exactly" his or her way?

If so, then you have had a close encounter of the "nth" kind. The "n" in this case stands for narrow-minded.

Recently, I woke up in the middle of the night with some thoughts on how to explain, in an illustrative way, these most frustrating encounters, which have many of us in knots. If you've always wanted to say to someone, "Here's why you don't have the capacity to see it from my perspective…," then walk away with your own confidence firmly intact after one such encounter, then read on.

You see, some of us see life as a cross-country running event, with all it's winding paths and hills. We know we get off our main path sometimes. We admit we are only humans. But some people around us never seem to admit to such failings.

A computer programmer would understand this analogy very well, because the mind of the computer programmer has to be able to anticipate every path which might cause the flow of a program to make an error or result in unintended consequences. A good computer programmer has a great command of the rules of logic.

A long-distance runner and a computer programmer must have very logical and broad minds, capable of seeing more paths of thinking than some kinds of people would be comfortable with or even willing to see. Even some Christians deny the doctrine of free will in order to avoid the burden of having to think.

This returns us to how narrow-minded people see life. Life is a 100-yard dash to them. They can wear blinders around their eyes because they only need to see "their" finish line---straight ahead.

Pity the poor long-distance runner who happens to get in the way of one of these narrow-minded sprinters. You can't have a good conversation with them because they can only relate to you if you are looking in one direction---theirs. They do not have the capacity to see anything from your perspective. They would have to remove their blinders to do that.

If you have a logical mind and you jog alongside a sprinter for a while in conversation, you will only grow more and more frustrated. The fact is, the only logic a sprinter understands is "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line."

So if you are a cross-country runner, as I believe most of us are, if you see life as a maze where the use of logic is necessary, and if you see some runners only capable of running in one direction---don't try to jog beside them with logical conversations.

And whatever you do, don't let them knock you down and hurt you. Narrow-minded sprinters use spiked shoes and they don't care who they have to step on in their run through life.

Just relax, look at them with a smile, put your hands up beside your face (in the fashion of blinders) and say to them, "Pass on by."

---Kenneth J. Wolf #26 (11/13/93)

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