David Trinko: A year of listening to one another

As a new year rolls into our lives Monday, we’ll all spend this weekend contemplating what improvements or changes we might need to make into our lives.

Making and breaking New Year’s resolutions is a long-standing tradition for many people. While I’d love to drop 25 pounds or read the entire Bible in 2024, I’ll share the real resolution I’m making this year.

I will spend 2024 trying to keep an open mind.

This doesn’t mean that all my belief systems are up for grabs. Deeply held beliefs shouldn’t be like a plastic bag blowing in the wind, shifting this way or that depending on the prevailing gusts.

It does mean that I should at least hear contrary views with a receiving and charitable mind. I should be able to listen to those with whom I disagree without just waiting for my turn to yell at them about how stupid their view are.

I’ve never quite been that rude of a person, but I certainly deal with plenty of people who are. And while I’d love to yell a few words my dad learned in the Navy at them, what really do you accomplish that way? As a former coworker once told me, “Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

Living life with an open mind means hearing someone out until the end. It means carefully considering their point of view. It means being willing to concede your own views might be flawed, if only by a little bit.

It doesn’t mean being wishy-washy. It doesn’t mean being unprincipled. It only means being willing to ponder how another person sees the world.

It’s too easy to feel like the world is a stage, and you’re the main character in that drama. If that were true, there are billions of stages that have to be overlapping, causing more fights than anyone needs.

The world is a changing place. We don’t have to love that fact, but it doesn’t make it any less of an accurate statement. Those of us who grasp for happiness and something resembling truth realize we need to understand how and why the changes are happening, and we need to keep some perspective on things.

The only way to build that knowledge is, to quote Ted Lasso, “Be curious, not judgmental.” (Alas, the fictional coach Lasso misattributed that line to Walt Whitman, when no one knows who really said it first. Ah, the things you learn when you’re willing to be open-minded on what you think you know.)

I’ll try to apply this intellectual curiosity to my work and home lives alike. It’s dangerous to assume you know anything completely.

After all, I grew up knowing there were four named oceans, Arctic, Atlantic, Indian and Pacific. That’s wrong; there’s been a fifth ocean, the Southern Ocean, since about 2000.

Similarly, I grew up knowing there were nine planets in our solar system. That’s also not true; it’s eight now, since Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet back in 2006. By the way, there are five recognized dwarf planets since 2008.

Yes, 2024 is a presidential election year, so this open-mindedness will be exhausting. People seem to think the definition of every word and every idea is up for grabs. It harms me none to listen to someone else’s point of view and see what I can learn from it and what reinforces my own beliefs.

Happy New Year to you all. I hope it’s a year full of interesting ideas and well-intentioned listening for us all.


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

Subscribe to the Trinko Thinks So podcast at LimaOhio.com/podcasts.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.