The most common expression…

So, I went down to the Occupy Portland site for the first time on Saturday (8 Oct, 2011) to check it out and take some pics. Pretty amazing scene involving people of all ages with a very wide variety of basic political views, but all united in the belief that this country is going in the wrong direction. I think I would paraphrase for most people there that the feeling is that we have become a

Government of the people but by the corporations and for the corporations

An interesting thing:…

The most common expression I heard when I was down there. What do you think it was? I heard it in conversations that I had, and time and again in conversations that other people were having. It is a very simple expression that started new thoughts expressed by some person: “I Think…”

I think…” Hmm. This is interesting to me, interesting on two levels.

First there is the immediate level: “I think…” indicates that one is thinking, implies that one is weighing a variety of ideas and currently giving preference to the one he or she is about to describe. Wow! Thinking. If this is real and Americans are beginning to think, then perhaps we are in the midst of a real revolution [he said snidely (and tongue firmly in cheek)].

But what I really see is the second, more profound meaning of “I think…” Implied within that introductory phrase is the thought: “I believe what follows, however I recognize that you might not agree with me, AND I respect your contrary opinion and your right to hold it!

I had just finished explaining this to one gentleman there, when up came 12-year-old Gabe, taking video on his smartphone. When asked about the event, he immediately began: “Well. I think…” I stopped him right there and asked, “Just why do you say ‘I think…’?” To which he replied, “Well this is my opinion, but I don’t want to say ‘I know.’ I don’t want to tell you how you have to think…”

To me, the key behind this is respect! A simple little idea, but I really believe it separates us from so many on the right who are so convinced that they have the one and only truth, and all who do not believe in it are un-American and evil. Here we have no lack of conviction – the people at Occupy Portland are acting on firmly held beliefs – but a lot (I am sure not all) are willing to give respect to others on a basic human level even if they hold other views.

 Personally, I think this is impressive.

Thanks for viewing

– I would love your comments (or should I say your thinking on this) –

  1. Roger Smith said:

    “I think” … leaving room for other thoughts and views (as that perceptive little boy noted; talk about “out of the mouths of children”) … does indeed give room for the thoughts themselves to leave whatever impression they will on the hearers, so you can then turn them over in your own mind and come to your conclusion. That’s also the idea behind the word “educate”, which is from a Latin root “to draw out / lead out”: rather than just dishing out information, real education gives people ideas, thoughts, views, in such a way to draw or lead them out into new and fresh insights on their own. The little boy is a true teacher, educating any who hear.

  2. Brilliant observation. I’ve tweeted the permalink to this article. If you are on Twitter, I would love to follow you and give you credit for the link. Catch me @miketuttle on Twitter.

  3. mike k said:

    Disclaiming that one’s own views are authoritative is an essential step to validate one’s criticism of others who claim
    to be authoritative. Thanks for your important insight. We need to check out what may be occluding our own vision before pointing out where another may be amiss in their thinking. Leaving room for others to freely and completely express their views, and validating them as wothwhile fellow beings goes a long way towards opening a dialog, as opposed to a shouting match.

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