I started writing this blogpost a few weeks ago, at that time with the intention to in some way collect and summarize the different categories of responses that have reached me since I left China. But I found it a bit hard to connect everything in a smooth way. So I decided to make in a more fragmented way, by writing in parts. This is the “prologue”, where I will try explain my view of feedback and criticism and “truth”.
First I want to say thank you to all kind of response this far. I haven’t counted all comments I have got, they have been numerous and wide-ranged, some of them hailing me as a hero, other saying that I am nothing but stupid. Many of comments were probably deleted by Chinese censors before I had a chance to see them, but all of you should know, that I am in some way thankful to every comment.
Receive criticism is not always very easy, if you have worked hard for something, you feel proud, you feel that you are doing the right thing, you have got support and somebody suddenly say that you are wrong or even stupid. It’s not easy, you probably want to defend yourself, and keep being on the comfortable track of self-confidence. Sometimes it’s very strong feelings, just like someone want to hurt you. But our feelings are not always that rational, sometimes we are wrong, but have hard, or don’t want to consider it. And how can we know what is right or wrong? Is there any right or wrong?
A few years ago, I think I came to a point in life when I in some way understood how hard it is to know what is true. I considered the different religions, different cultures, different politics, most of them really convinced that they are believing in truth. But it’s simply impossible – if two persons says that I am right and you are wrong, at least one of them are wrong, both of them can be wrong, but both of them can’t be right. Still people put far more effort to make other people to change their belief, politics or whatever, even if the only thing we easily can control and change is – ourselves.
But here I think our emotions in some way is our biggest enemy, the chemical reactions in our body, the mechanisms that automatically starts. I started to consider my own feelings, and in specific situations, I could predict them and feel them almost like I watched another person. My feelings could strongly make me hate, when I knew I should be thankful. I think this understanding of my own irrational emotional reactions gave me a much better self-awareness, and I could be prepared and set up principles how to handle it.
For examples, I decided to always read through criticizing comments or when arguing, always let people talk until they are finished before I answer. I also noticed that it could take time to let the emotional reaction calm down, but after that it was easier to understand the situation clearly, so many times I don’t answer criticism immediately.
I read a lot about this, understood that it’s in fact is a very complicated thing, how we become selective, we might think that we are on the right path and experience that “everything” confirms our belief, but actually we just hear what we want. You can find the problem in many places, the confirmation bias. In some way, a strong believe that you believe in truth, might just be a sign that you lack perspective. For me it seems like people actually don’t really want to believe in truth, but we want to believe that we believe in truth.
We can take one example (among any authoritarian organisations), the Catholic Church, in the medieval Europe a very strong instance and I guess that they really regarded them self to believe in truth. I think that people who are convinced in believing in truth should have a will to make all facts open, to let all people critically review anything, because if it is the truth, then they should come to the same conclusion in the end. Right? But the Catholic church did not act like that, there were for example one man called Galileo Galilei who not just stated that the Earth is not the center of the Universe, he also stated that if we can proof something in reality, then contradictory theories are false (or something like that). It was a big threat to the Catholic church, why they took him to the court, and put him in house arrest for the rest of his life. Later, his theories became the basis of science, and he is sometimes called “the Father of Science”. 1992 the Catholic Church apologized for their actions. And I guess any authoritarian organisation or state will face the same destiny, the probability that they are right in all cases when they controle peoples life, is simply not that big.
So we can see, the search for truth is not an easy thing, not even for those who claim they love truth and want to believe in it. But if we are really honest with it, we should let people find the truth themselves, give them all information, be open and try to be critical to ourselves at firsthand. But I think it’s often a question of where we put our proudness, and I think I have find my own strategy – to put my proudness in being honest. I can tell you, sometimes I feel humiliated and embarrassed, but later the redress seems to come (though it’s hard next time again) and I can feel that proudness or harmony anyway (I’m sorry China, to force all people believe in lies will simply not give you harmony). But sometimes I will be punished, because my mistakes or actions simply make people disappointed or upset, but then I at least can feel some kind of proudness that I have taken a decision to to what I think is right when I have realized my mistake. And I think it’s important to understand that as well, just like for myself, the feelings are not easy to handle. But I really try to behave myself when others are honest, encourage the honestness and openness, otherwise I will be a person that prefer to be manipulated and have a wrong perspective than have a more true perspective in accordance with reality.
After all, I simply don’t know what is true or not, but I think that to have any chance to reach it, “all facts” must be available, all people must be allowed to share their angle, but I’m not really sure if that is enough, I think we should put effort to make facts available in easy ways, and we should encourage people to express their ideas, their opinions and if that is something we don’t like, we should consider if the biggest problem is ourselves.
So I am thankful for all people taking time to express their opinions about me, because it gives me opportunity to reflect, and I also want you to know, that even if I disagree with me, I am thankful. It’s not unusual that I am more thankful to an honest person that disagree with we and make me understand that I have been wrong, then a person that agree with me in same case.
I think that in some way summarize what I want to say, I have probably missed several important things. But basically I want to say that I am thankful when people have the courage to express their opinions even if I agree or not, if they criticize me or not. In a next step I am even more thankful when people try to question themselves first, consider which facts they posses and what have affected them and so on. But in a first step, feel free and encouraged to criticize me! at same time, I hope you all can understand that I still want be your friend even if I don’t agree with you.