Before coming down hard on an issue, I suggest doing a “lap around the field of ideas.” Running is listening.
You’ve heard one side, great. But now jog around over to the other end of the field and turn around. See “through the eyes” of the other side. Things look different. Now come back to your starting place, and look again. You might take the same position, but now you also have perspective. You might take the same exact view as you did before, but now you understand how someone could have reached a different view, even if it is wrong. Do another lap if it helps, or two or three. You’ll find there are sometimes many stopping points. Some can teach us more than we might have imagined; others less so. We learn what we can and keep moving, for running is listening.
It is irresponsible to run forever, of courser; we must stop somewhere. But doing just one lap is far better than always standing in just one place, pretending that the other “team” is nothing but idiots and fools. Moreover, no one can circumnavigate every field in life, and some fields change over time. So let us listen to the voices who have done the most laps around fields we’ve never visited–not just to those who have stood still in them. Just by listening, we are doing a lap ourselves. For running is listening, not necessarily studying.
There are probably stationary persons, or “standers” at all points in almost every field who’ve never made even one lap. They usually have only good things to say about their position and only bad things to say about others. Standers are quick to rationalize away their own faults, and even quicker to change the subject and capitalize on the faults of their “opponents.” They tend to go through life shaking their heads, marvelling at how many “idiots” take a view other than their own. They have little patience for runners, no time for weighing ideas or thinking about how they could themselves be wrong. Even when they are right, their fruit is wrong.
In reaction to standers, inexperienced runners sometimes revert to “stationary” thinking, tempted to think that certain standers represent everyone who takes their view. They forget that there are runners on all sides, and that you can’t tell a stander from a runner by looking–only by listening. They also forget that a runner in one field can easily be a stander in another. Sometimes runners think that standers can be pushed into running around a certain field, but a stander can only be respected, served, loved, reasoned, and redeemed into running; shaming, mockery, and manipulation will not provide lasting motivation.
So the wisest runners train themselves to look for the good in standers, to respect them, and to learn from them anyway, for running is listening, even to standers. They know that to think of themselves as better is to in fact become worse. When they find themselves about to mutter the word “idiot,” their reflex is to listen closer. They are more interested in learning than in teaching the standers a lesson. After all, standers can teach us much about how things look from their own point of view. And perhaps later on they can be encouraged to take a walk around.
Or, in better words, see Proverbs 18:13,17, 12:15, and Galatians 6:1.