Iron Sharpens Iron.
What does that idiom mean to you?
Actually originating from a biblical proverb, its meaning is that two knives sharpen each other, both becoming stronger and sharper. As we as a diverse group of people come together, we build each other up. As we confer with one another, we grow. We are social beings, and our beliefs and ideologies stem from interacting with each other. When members of society are left to dwell alone without others to help them grow, everyone remains dull. While it is religious in nature, the proverb can easily be applied to secular aspects of human society. Namely, conflict.
Conflict, inherently, is differing ideas. It is neither good nor bad; it is only a state of nature. Conflict becomes good or bad when our individual reactions become involved. Alone and by itself, it is just different viewpoints on any particular subject. Nothing more, nothing less.
One of the foundations of American society is the free exchange of ideas. It is one of the main reasons this nation is prosperous. The ability to engage freely with our neighbors is a powerful form of communication. Our ideas grow and evolve with each discussion, debate, and conversation. Often, one person’s ideas will conflict with someone else’s, and it is important to realize that this differentiation is what we should desire to happen. Iron sharpens iron, and no matter what our differences are, we as a society expand. That is, we grow as long as we are willing to grow. We have to possess that desire. Sadly, and more often than not, we make the choice to allow our minds remain dull.
As a society, we cannot afford to isolate ourselves from other community members. Tribalism, confirmation bias, echo chambers, social media, and countless other aspects of humanity have dulled our abilities to receive external ideas and conflict. By refusing to listen to others’, our own ideas are not being sharpened; our own ideas are remaining dull. Often times, there is not much desire to reach out to the other side; however, we desire change. By actively working to ensure the free flow of ideas and by reaching out to the other side, change is possible.
How we do ensure that we continue to grow? We must make the choice to. An idea can only grow if we study and discuss it with others similar to us and others that differ. Avoiding conflict because we are uncomfortable with it is detrimental to our core, and choosing not to engage in conflict is admitting that only the loudest idea prevails rather than the best idea. Conflict is important because it forces individuals to truly be the best that they can be. As we avoid conflict, we become complacent. Complacency does nothing to challenge us to grow. We must make the choice to grow.
Iron sharpens iron, so let us have individuals, communities, organizations, and our fellow neighbors come together and grow. Let us build and expand our society. No matter what you believe, even if you disagree, all of our minds must not remain dull; let us sharpen them together.