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Editorial: February 2012

Looking for answers


February 13, 2012
By Patrick Flannery

In a complex world, disagreements are inevitable. We should be OK with
that as long as we realize everyone is searching for answers together.

In a complex world, disagreements are inevitable. We should be OK with that as long as we realize everyone is searching for answers together.

Are there no right or wrong answers, only different interpretations of the flood of information to which we are all exposed? I don’t like that idea, even as I have to admit the possibility it is true. However, even if that is the way the universe works, I think we need to behave as if it were not true. If we are free to interpret reality any way we want, I think we need to make as our first conclusion the principle that there is truth and that there are correct and incorrect conclusions. I think we need to take this position for two reasons.

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As people who work with their hands, tradespeople find the idea that all things are relative and open to interpretation to be intellectually jarring. A window will accept no argument when it will not fit into an opening. It is either the right size or it is not, and no amount of debate will change this fact. This seems to suggest something fundamental about the universe: that perhaps people who do not do physical work cannot appreciate: we must adjust what we believe to fit the world, not the other way around.

Secondly, in the absence of an agreed standard of truth, all opinion becomes political. If any position, any conclusion, is admissible, then which conclusions we adopt becomes a matter of personal choice and preference. Then, when people disagree, it gets personal. Instead of a shared journey to find the truth, an argument becomes a test of loyalty and affinity. If you disagree with me, it must be because you don’t like me or are somehow working against me and opposing me for some unknown reason of your own. You must be allied with another worldview that does not admit mine. You don’t just disagree – you are the Enemy.

People with shared goals and objectives shouldn’t be enemies. Our conversations within communities, within families and within industries are conversations between people who rely on each other for their mutual welfare. As a matter of practical necessity, we need to embrace the idea that there is a single right answer, a single best way to proceed, and to acknowledge that we all are engaged in a quest to find that answer together.

Because this industry needs correct answers, and because those answers are out there, this magazine will always publish the honest views of those who are looking for them, whether we agree or disagree with them. Our mission is to act as a conduit through which this industry can have a discussion, not to take sides or to promote one arbitrary view above another. Neither is it our place to judge who is right and who is wrong. When everyone talks, and no one gets personal, the truth will out.


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