Knowledge allows us to avoid the mistakes of those who came before us and determine the best method to reach our goals. However, knowledge alone cannot change anything. In order to make change, we must apply our knowledge to make better decisions or inspire others to widen their perspectives. The world cannot change because of the ideas of one person, it requires action for those ideas to spread and cause further action.
One purpose of The Human Manual is to inform you of the concepts that describe your existence in this reality. A far more important purpose of this book is to give you the tools to share your knowledge and create change in the world we all share. The best way to create change is with open communication and the most effective type of communication is called dialogue.
A dialogue, in simplest terms, is a conversation whose purpose is to find a consensus among those involved. The Latin roots dia and logos mean “through” and “words/meaning,” respectively. Although violence and power have influenced the course of events throughout our history, it is through words and ideas that a sustainable future will be created. More importantly, those words and ideas that will form the future must come from more than one person. A dialogue is very different than a monologue, though the two share common roots. A successful dialogue requires more than just one person.
Luckily, you are not alone in this world. There are many, many people around you who can help you to create the best possible future for all of you. You only need to look around to find ways in which you can help others and those others will find ways to help you. The only way we can reach the best possible future for all of us is by working together.
There is absolutely no way you can understand everything there is to know about the world around you, there simply isn’t enough time. You will not have enough time in your life to understand everything there is to know about other people, or even yourself. You are constantly changing just like everyone and everything around you. Attempting to learn everything about everything is an impossible goal.
Even this book, which is meant to describe a “Theory of Everything,” only goes so deep on all of the topics presented. You will surely discover more than what is presented in this book throughout your lifetime of learning. The Human Manual is meant to give you a framework of how everything in the universe is connected. It is not a complete library of human knowledge; it’s more of a bookshelf with plenty of empty space available for you to fill with your own discoveries.
The best way to fill up your own “bookshelf of knowledge” is to have discussions with other people. This book hopefully opened the door to many aspects of your world that will require a lot more discovery from you to fully understand. Subjects like Chemistry or Economics are a lot more complicated than just a few pages!
While many sections simplified complex subjects, it’s very likely that my simplification is still confusing. That is totally okay and should inspire you to start asking questions. You have the Internet and everyone connected to it as a resource to answer those questions. Even if you learn the answers, you can still benefit greatly from discussing these topics with your friends and family. You never know what knowledge lies in a person’s mind unless you start a conversation with them. Even if neither of you already knows a definitive “answer,” you can still learn from the process of sharing what you do understand and translating those ideas into words. Sometimes, the greatest wisdom can come from a shared thought that was never intended to be wise.
A dialogue is the most effective way for you to change your own world into the future you want it to become. When we choose to learn from our ancestors and the people around us, we become the best versions of ourselves. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce you to four guidelines for a successful dialogue.
- Truth is the overall goal: Two opposing facts cannot be true simultaneously. The consensus a dialogue hopes to reach will bring everyone involved closer to the truth.
- Be prepared to be refuted: To be wrong does not mean you are bad or a failure; everyone is always wrong until they are right. There is no shame in being wrong; the only mistake you can make is to refuse to accept that you are wrong.
- Listen openly: Make sure to take turns speaking so that neither person involved feels as though they are interrupted. Establish a way to trade who is talking so that each speaker can utilize silence and consider their words carefully.
- Question everything: Nothing is certain in this world. Even the laws of physics can be uprooted if we find something more fundamental that changes our entire perspective. We are always attempting to get closer to truth, never assume you already know the truth.
These four guidelines will allow you to openly question your own perspective of reality in the hopes of seeing a truer version of the world. The important thing to remember is that a dialogue is not a competition; there is no winner and no loser. Even in situations when the views of one person are incorrect, there is no shame in admitting that you were wrong. In the end, as long as everyone involved in the dialogue is closer to the truth than before they began, everyone should feel successful.
Although commonly seen as the same thing, a dialogue and a debate are fairly different; especially the modern usage of the word “debate.” A debate requires opposing sides to contradictory ideas on the same topic. Unfortunately, modern debates have morphed into a form of competition that only serves to push opposing sides further apart instead of bringing them to consensus.
Debates are not for winning, they are for learning. Even if the debate ends with a proclamation that you “agree to disagree,” the fact that both sides disagree is still a consensus. At the very least, if you are not swayed by the points offered by your opponent (and I use that word cautiously), you have still learned their point of view. Learning is still happening!
When you engage in a debate with someone who has opposing views, that person is technically your “opponent.” However, it is very important to remember that an opponent is not an enemy!
When we are not careful with debates, we can quickly draw lines to establish “us” vs. “them.” This is dangerous and can lead to many more problems. If you disagree with someone and place them into a category that is different than yours, you are likely to disregard everything that person says or does since you placed them into the “bad guys” category.
A debate is merely a type of dialogue in which two or more people have differing views. The goal of the dialogue is to find a shared connection between the people involved; the truth is preferably that connection. A debate, on the other hand, is a great way to flesh out your ideas and opinions. While debates toe the line of competition, it is important to remember that it is a dialogue and that it should end with an attempt to find a shared connection.
Sometimes, you can have a debate even when all parties involved are already in agreement. In order to flesh out your ideas, you can have a debate against someone playing the role of “devil’s advocate.” This person’s goal in the debate is to try and disprove everything you say, regardless of whether their points reflect their true opinions. Once again, the point of this type of debate is not to win, it is to learn. Defending your ideas can help you spot holes in your logic or help you to see whether you are totally wrong. Just like in science, being wrong in a debate is never a bad thing as long as you learn something.
Properly using a dialogue can be tricky, especially when speaking with a person who desperately wants to “win” their debate. When unable to convince these people that the purpose of your discussion is to learn instead of win, it might be necessary to step away from the conversation altogether. As the old saying goes, “you can bring a horse to water but you cannot force it to drink.”
Stubbornness is a common trait and it leads some people to believe that it’s better to “adjust the truth” than to believe that they are wrong. At this moment in human history, we are on the cusp of an Enlightened Age. Our path to reach such a time is through our access to information.
The Enlightened Age will allow us to see and understand the truth about ourselves and our world: we are all equal and merely a part of nature. Although there are powerful entities trying to maintain the status quo by attempting to hide or change the truth, progress cannot be stopped. It is through words and ideas that we will ascend to a level of civilization that our ancestors could have never imagined. We will reach this new plane of existence by working together.