One of the surest ways to get blindsided by life is to start off with a wrong or false premise. A premise is the basis [foundation] of an argument or theory. For example, if I start off saying, "MOST women...", that is the wrong premise to argue from. It suggests that I know most women when I absolutely don't. Therefore, everything that concludes that wrong statement has more of a chance to be wrong too. Why? The foundation isn't solid. If you've ever witnessed a person start off with the wrong premise you may have also seen that conversation take a sharp detour to address the wrong premise before going any further. For example, before I could even go into talking about "MOST women" a critical thinker would first address the fact that I don't know most women to speak on them. Starting off wrong sets the tone for whatever else I have to say about women that has a high probability of being wrong too. At best, all I could say is "most women I know" -which sets the right premise and frames the conversation in the proper context.
What inspired this article are the countless false premises and arguments I see offline and on social media. While some false premises are deliberately made as clickbait, there are those who simply don't know how to soundly communicate their ideas. They may be well intended, and even have a valid point to make about their own personal experiences or observations, yet it all goes out of the window when they start off wrong. I once saw a Facebook post get so out of hand that it resulted in violence offline, all because of a wrong premise about how someone died.
I recently had an online exchange with a black woman who shared a post of a white man being interviewed by a black woman on a South African News Station. Out of frustration of her questions, the white man walked off of the show and threatened her to the point he had to be escorted out of the building. The woman who posted this video captioned it, "This is how most black men treat black women now a days. It's pitiful" Upon seeing this I commented that at best all she could accurately say is, "most black men I know." Instead of considering the fundamental flaw in her statement her only response was "My mother always told me only a hit dog makes noise." The irony in this is she was literally talking to a black man who is not "MOST black men" she described. In fact, all of my colleagues are not like that. When faced with this scenario some people take pride in trying to convince someone like this otherwise. If it's a child who lacks the experience then I share with them some examples they can consider outside of their sphere of awareness. If it's an adult with no physical/mental impairments that limits their experience or sphere of awareness then I don't waste time trying to explain anything. This is an able-bodied adult who is ignorant by choice. Meaning, they choose to ignore new information and experience anything outside of their limited sphere of awareness. With this person it is only a matter of time before life shows them something otherwise. In this woman's case, who was single, she'll miss brothers like myself who don't fit into her conceptual prison house.
As I said, many arguments start from the place of a wrong premise. Consider Donald Trump's false premise about Mexican Immigrants that, "THEY [The Mexican Government] send the bad ones over because they don't want to pay for them" or Hillary Clinton's 1996 Speech at Keene State College Speech describing inner-city [black and brown] youth as "superpredators" -a word first mentioned by Princeton Political Science Professor John DiIulio to describe these youth as subhuman, wild, amoral creatures ready to violate and murder Americans without a conscience. Both of these false premises, and many others, have been used to criminalize people of color in this country and reinforce an image of inferiority/distrust that permeates every institution, that colors every resource and fuels this economy.
How do we begin to change that? To start, knowledge must be our foundation, not belief, hearsay or feelings. Having the facts enables us to speak from a position of surety and confidence because our proposition is sound. When we start off right, with the right information, the conclusions drawn from what we say and do will be less likely to be wrong. Belief, hearsay and feelings don't afford us the same sense of security and stability because they aren't concrete. People believe whatever they want regardless of the facts, hearsay is nothing but a rumor and feelings change like the wind. While there's a place for all of these perspectives, they're not the most sound sources to build upon because they're too transitory [impermanent]. The more we know, we have the ability to make wiser decisions. It's difficult to make wise decisions when we don't know anything first. So as we become more informed about people, places and things ,we'll begin to expand our sphere of awareness and experience life beyond the limits of belief, hearsay and feelings. We'll begin to "know" the "ledge" [knowledge] of the false premises we once stood upon and willfully speak and act wiser than we did before.
In the series Kung Fu, Master Kan in speaking to his student Caine about perceiving the way of nature said, "Avoid rather than check. Check rather than hurt. Hurt rather than maim. Maim rather than kill. For all life is precious nor can any be replaced." With growth and development comes power, and this influence makes us a resource and responsible to those who are unaware. There are times I didn't follow the above advice in regards to mental combat and killed rather than maim, maimed instead of checking a person and checked a person instead of avoiding them. As I've gotten older I realize that many arguments can be avoided with a few well chosen words or avoiding the conversation altogether in order to preserve the relationship. People are capable of drawing the right conclusions, such as "my love wasn't wrong, I just shared it with a person unwilling to reciprocate it" if they can get their premise right, "there is a chance for love" as opposed to a false premise like "b*tches ain't sh*t but hoes and tricks" or "all men cheat." It takes courage and receptivity to think outside of the box before stepping outside of the box, but it's a way of thinking and a step that's worth it. To say that MOST or ALL people, places and things are a certain way, especially when we don't know MOST or ALL people, places and things, is equivalent to building a house with straw or sticks. And it's only a matter of time before the big bad wolf comes and huffs, puffs and blows that house down.