Ask no man

No More Contention is the pursuit of clarity, charity and understanding. Contention arises from the compulsion to have others agree with us. Seeking understanding in an environment of clarity and charity produces no more contention. As Joseph Smith said, "I will ask no man to believe as I do."

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Three broad categories

In a sense, contention is inevitable and unavoidable because every individual is unique, and no two people agree on everything.  Ideally, we...

Seek first to understand

One major cause of contention is the urge to have others agree with us, to think the same way we do, to support our beliefs, etc. We could say we seek to have others confirm our biases.

Maybe that urge is some kind of biological compulsion, a sort of safety net, a result of natural tribalism. Or maybe it's a desire for confirmation or ratification of our beliefs based on the appeal to popularity logical fallacy (argumentum ad populum).

Maybe it's simply a reflection of insecurity about our own beliefs.

Or, maybe it's a pursuit of the truth, in the sense that we seek agreement while remaining open to better ideas, more information, clearer explanations, etc. IOW, we seek agreement because we think we've optimized our search for truth, but we're eager for more truth. 

Hopefully it's the latter, but that seems rare because it requires a big dose of humility and self-awareness.


Regardless of the cause of the urge to seek confirmation of our biases, we can overcome the urge by seeking first to understand others.

Habit 5 of Covey's 7 habits explains this concept well.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood involves a deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Instead, most people listen to the reply. They're either speaking or preparing to speak. 

Empathic listening is listening with the intent to understand. Empathic listening is powerful because it gives you accurate data to work with. It takes time, but nowhere near the time that it takes to back up and correct misunderstandings when you're already miles down the road. 

By seeking first to understand, we avoid the contention trigger. We have no compulsion to disagree, to point out inconsistencies and errors, to accuse of bad faith, etc. 

In the LDS context, we can seek to understand other people without feeling compelled to correct, challenge, criticize, or even oppose.

One effective way to understand is to set forth the different perspectives and interpretations for everyone to see.

That's what we plan to do on this blog.

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