Alan Weiss on Agendas

I lose interest in others’ opinions and remarks when they’re agenda-laden. By that I mean, there is a cause which must be raised despite the immediate topic. If we’re talking about dog food, or basketball, or sports cars, the other person has to raise climate change, or politics, or income redistribution.

Don’t misunderstand, I admire passion and fervor. I don’t mind if you want to try to influence my thinking because I’m an adult, fairly intelligent, and can make my own evaluations and judgments. (Don’t you love it when people say, “You’re much too judgmental” when that very conclusion is so judgmental?! It’s like screaming, “I am NOT defensive!!”)

But I draw the line at zealotry, which is a rather fanatic and uncompromising pursuit of a cause, political view, or religious position. Persuading is one thing, proselytizing is another. Why do I have to be hit over the head with someone’s agenda with every interaction?

We seem to believe today that every cause, concern, and condition demands everyone’s attention all the time. That every grievance, no matter how personal or trivial, must be acknowledged and attended to by the rest of humanity. There are great and challenging issues of our times, but we are dull people when they are the sole items of conversation. We can’t become a Puritanical society where we all live in the dread fear that “people somewhere, at some time, are enjoying themselves.”

By all means concern yourself with the climate, or politics, or abortion, or immigration, or infrastructure, or racism, or education, or whatever. But also concern yourself with improving the current day and helping others by not arguing, not evangelizing, not demanding conformance with your cause or position.

I, for one, am more persuaded by people who help and whom I can trust much more than people who demand I’m “for them or against them.”■