Seeking first to understand is the first, most important, and frequently neglected principle of wisdom. We are too quick to blurt opinions and too slow to humbly listen. Uneducated rhetoric is a noise, and distorts a clear signal. Most detrimental, the failure to understand is to perpetuate the artificial and superficial divides that fracture humanity. We claim disparate tectonic plates beneath us by failing to seek common ground, and therefore, we continually drift further apart.
It is my conviction that understanding, based on critical curiosity is one of the pillars to remedying life’s most pressing challenges. While moral and philosophical differences will perpetually remain, those distinctions are necessary to counter-balance humanity’s tendency toward polarized extremism. Ignorance, on the other hand, is destructive, self-sabotaging, and leads to delusional conclusions. We can’t have productive dialogue without a shared epistemology. To get there, we must have a better, further, and deeper understanding of the issue at hand, and the people with whom we are conversing.