Having one’s values and beliefs questioned and/or challenged.
I’m not sure how many people actually like this (perhaps mostly NTs?). Then again, some might argue there’s a fine line between ‘being questioned’ and ‘feeling attacked’; that it’s all a matter of interpretation.
However, in my eyes, there’s a significant difference, rhetorically.
This is perhaps all the more prevalent in an age where ‘safe spaces’ are being heavily discussed, particularly among my own generation, but this tendency also points to several other factors of modern (western) society; a surge of identity politics being one of them.
And, there’s a world of difference between having one’s beliefs questioned and not being believed (or appear convincing).
But, personally, I persist that the point of learning must be to be challenged. Expand your horizon. In the end, there’s only a shell of stimuli in having your own opinions reflected and confirmed with no new information gained.
Learning is sort of a dialectic process, almost phenomenological. Not just by observing the world around you, but also by interacting with other people and challenging them in return, hopefully producing something constructive, if not for the parties involved then for the potential listeners or on-lookers. Sometimes, you simply agree on disagreeing which can be surprisingly rewarding in itself.
It may sound all very rationalized and distanced but I believe only so can we regard the subject clear-eyed. Like the basic principle of free speech, to quote Voltaire: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Intolerance is a hard nut to crack, though, and it can feel like running one’s head against a brick wall. Some people are hard-set on being rigid in their convictions, and it’s a brave but also slightly naive or romantic notion that one can somehow sway the bigoted to the better. (I include myself in this syndrom).
But different opinions do not equal stigmatization or oppression. Opposition is good. Difference is good. And exactly what a democracy or a healthy society need to stay healthy. It’s what makes a society diverse.
Though I partly understand where my university peers who demand safe spaces and/or trigger warnings are coming from, I am sometimes in awe that they can proclaim greater tolerance for different opinions by stopping or censoring every opinion that does not suit their own. It is counterproductive – even hypocritical – to safeguard minority groups (especially on their behalf) for their difference by practically coddling each other into the belief that they don’t need to listen to anybody else’s opinions while their own stay safe.
By principle, no opinion should be spared of being challenged on, ideally, a rational, constructive and dialectical level.
The world is constantly changing and values are being questioned – in the good way as well. But how can you regard any opinion or idea, even refute it for its foolishness that it may be, if they are all censored or ignored, because you have closed yourself off in a little bubble with cotton in your ears?*
I don’t presume to preach or have the answer to what the ideal world should be or look like, but the important factor is to keep questioning ourselves and never stop.