Pick your battles

There’s an elderly gentleman I know who was in the music business in the ’60s and ’70s, particularly jazz. He’s a dear friend of mine, and we enjoy many conversations about a wide variety of topics. At 80 years old, he has a lot of life experience and wisdom that a 24 year-old like myself does not. And he hates rap music. Doesn’t even think it qualifies as music, actually. I strongly disagree with him. There are two things I could do about this:

1) View his hatred of rap music as some kind of personal affront to my music tastes, a barrier that prevents this man and myself from having a true friendship, an incorrect opinion from which I must dissuade him, or

2) Say to myself, “Although I don’t agree with him, that’s a fairly common opinion of rap music among elderly people, and I seriously doubt there’s anything I could do or say to change his mind. Honestly, if I didn’t anticipate him having such a belief about hip-hop, I’d be a bit of a moron, wouldn’t I?”

With that in mind, here’s my message for you today: pick your battles wisely. If you ever find yourself talking to someone with an opinion which differs from yours, first ask yourself if it’s important enough to debate them on the subject. In other words, as the adage goes, “Is this the hill I want to die on?” Many times, if you’re honest with yourself, it won’t be. And if it is (such as a belief which is discriminatory or bigoted), then ask yourself, “Is it even feasible to change their mind?” In the case of my friend who disdains rap, he’s 80 for god’s sake! I can handle myself in a spirited debate, but I’d have to be fucking delusional to think I could convince an old codger to suddenly alter his decades-old perception of a thing like rap! If you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, I think it certainly goes without saying that you can’t teach an old man new music. 

More importantly, as I said before, this is a very wise and experienced fellow. There’s much I can learn from him. And even though our viewpoints don’t always look like a pair of synchronized swimmers in the Olympics, they don’t have to. We don’t have to see eye to eye about every single subject to get along with each other. If you or I were to cut ties with anyone who believed certain things we don’t believe, we would quickly find ourselves with nobody to spend time with. So if a friend does, says, or thinks something that you don’t particularly care for, think carefully about whether or not it’s worth it to try and change their mind. You may find yourself wasting precious time and losing a potentially beneficial friendship as your reward.

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