Tall Poppy Diaries

Observations and musings on life as a happy high-achiever (or what the Aussie's call a "Tall Poppy" ). "Unless you choose to do great things with it, it makes no difference how much you are rewarded, or how much power you have." --Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, January 06, 2005


  Tall Poppy Basics Lesson 6: Broad-minded

(We are celebrating "De-Lurking Day At Tall Poppy Diaries!" today. I had such a great time at Michele and Gen's parties yesterday that I decided to pick up the party where they left off. SO, if you're lurking around, WELCOME! Grab some treats and leave a comment. If you have a blog, leave your URL so that we can come by and say, "Hello!" 'Kay? AND, if you're just surfing through and wondering what's up with the "lessons", please let me explain. And PLEASE feel free to tell us what YOU think, too!)

Tall Poppy...

Looks at the big picture rather than compartmentalizing events. She attempts (with some success) to choreograph her life to effect a more positive outcome.

Can understand and appreciate different points of view, even if she disagrees.

Understands that those who criticize the convictions of others without first understanding them usually also suffer from a variety of dread social diseases, including MeBrain Syndrome, Foot In Mouth disease and Verbal Diarrhea.

Knows that she must understand what she DOESN'T believe in order to know with certainty what she DOES.

Knows that becoming more knowledgeable, more understanding of other opinions and more flexible in her own views does NOT make her a "Waffler" or "Sellout". It makes her Enlightened; which, of course, is terribly intimidating to those who are not.

Broad-minded adj. 1: tolerant of varied views 2: inclined to condone minor departures from conventional behavior

In 1816, Mrs. H. Harrison Smith wrote to Thomas Jefferson, questioning his religious beliefs and admonishing him to accept hers. Jefferson replied to her:

"I never told my own religion, nor scrutinized that of another. I never attempted to make a convert, nor wished to change another's creed. I am satisfied that yours must be an excellent religion to have produced a life of such exemplary virtue and correctness. For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be judged."

Many people are hesitant to TRULY listen to views and opinions with which they disagree. They seem to fear that they'll be contaminated if they listen to people whose beliefs differ from theirs. Our world is a huge tapestry of different ideologies. A Tall Poppy knows that, quite often, the most important information in a story is that which is not revealed. In order to decide what is true, someone needs to hear "The Truth" from at least two sides.

Within all major belief systems there are as many variants as there are people who subscribe to them. If you line up 100 Catholics and ask them detailed questions about their beliefs, you'll get 100 different outlines. Same with all religions and political groups. Tall Poppies know that to dismiss someone as unimportant or irrational simply because of a broad classification (Republican, Democrat, Baptist, Episcopalian, etc) to which they may subscribe is a disservice to both parties.

A Tall Poppy listens to someone (which is entirely different from DEBATING) before judging the validity or sanity of their opinions. Labeling a person as "Good" or "Bad", "Smart" or "Ignorant", "Important" or "Unimportant" without knowing who "THEY" are and what they truly believe is shortsighted and immature. It's wise to keep basic information you learn about people in the back of your mind as a reference point. But as we should have learned from the 9/11 tragedy, putting all people of a certain group into one box and condemning them all is dangerous and unjustifiable.

I have always been troubled by the extent to which many people use broadly brushed labels to make character assessments of people they do not know. Labels can be useful to categorize people in the BROADEST sense.
Unfortunately, a person's true beliefs and character are not nearly as important to many people as being able to assign them a quick broad one-size-fits-all label that makes the assigner feel as if they are knowledgeable and enlightened. Tall Poppy knows better. But unfortunately, she is usually in the minority.

A Tall Poppy uses her own experiences with someone to form opinions of a person's character and constitution rather than taking the word of others who may have deceived her for selfish or sinister motives. AND Just because you hear it on the radio--or read in the newspaper--or see it on TV--doesn't mean it's TRUE; EVEN if the story is something you WANT to believe. A Tall Poppy also makes certain to understand the context in which a person's words were spoken, rather than taking someone else's inferences at face value. If the context can't be determined, don't repeat what you've heard. And don't make rash decisions regarding a person's character based on that piece of information.

If you feel it's a waste of time to listen to "those ignorant people on the other side", just remember what MacArthur said: "Know your enemy." It's crucial to a Tall Poppy's success that she understand the background and views of those with whom she disagrees. If she doesn't know what those on the opposing side TRULY believe, she CAN NOT be prepared to argue that they are wrong.

What can we (yes, this one is a BIG TIME struggle for me, too) do in 2005 to become more broadminded?

1). Broaden your list of "news" sources. Watch CNN AND FOX News. Read the Times AND the Post. For instance...I characterize myself as more conservative than liberal, but not "Republican". Or "Democrat". I support those whom I feel are the best candidates on both sides of the aisle. I don't believe that either side has ALL of the right answers on ANY issue. And it is difficult to listen to those (Hannity, Limbaugh, Moore, etc.) who think that "THEY" do. Hannity drives me crazy. But I listen to his show several times a week. I have caught Hannity in flat out lies on NUMEROUS occasions. And he rarely tells the whole story. But occasionally, something he or a guest says actually makes sense to me. I don't respect him. I am often horrified by the people who call in to his show. But I never fail to leave with a better perspective on what a large segment of our society believes. AND why. And that is NEVER a waste of time.

2). Really LISTEN to people with views that differ from your own, rather than debating them. Try to understand their rationale rather than attempting to convince them of their errors. Ask questions. Allow them to answer without interruption. And say, "That helps me understand why you feel as you do. I am so glad that you explained that to me". Then stop. And smile. Don't know where to begin? How about starting with your children? Of your husband? Boy, will they be surprised. Mine always are...when I bite my tongue long enough to practice what I preach.

And, finally...(on a somewhat unrelated subject) don't forget to vote for our friends who have been nominated for Best of the Blogs Awards. VOTE EVERY DAY!!! If you comment here, YOU should be on this list. If I have somehow overlooked you, PLEASE let me know!

NEW!!! Read our list of nominees, then click here to go to a new script that allows you to vote in multiple categories at the same time! EASY! So check out our friends below and then go VOTE!

Best Overall Blog: Vote For Michele!
Best New Blog: Aussie Mama, Sound of Muzik, and Sig, Carl and Al
Best Mommy Blog: Fighting Inertia
Biggest Blog (Promoter... ;) ): Scheiss Weekly, Barefoot Principessa
Snarkiest Blog: FFS!
Most Inspirational Blog: Always Victoria, Purple Goddess...
Best Literary/Book Blog: Magnificent Octopus
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Most Humorous Blog: Rockchild

OK, now you have to wait 24 hours before you can vote again, so don't vote at 11pm unless you want to vote at 11pm EVERY NIGHT! Just do it. NOW! Thanks!!!

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