Leaving room for doubt

It’s good to have a passion. It allows you to enthuse, to motivate, to change, to move others. But sometimes there’s too much passion. And I think sometimes it’s like this: the more convinced you seem, the less convincing you are.

What I’m talking about is this: when you are defending a cause and you think or pretend to have all the answers, when you leave no room for any grey areas or doubt, when you don’t concede any points, when you don’t admit there’s any questions left unanswered… people will trust you less than if you do.

Intelligent people know that the world today, with all the knowledge we have, is just too complex for simple black and white answers.

Regarding the animal rights and vegan issue, these are some points I think we might concede are open for discussion:

  • using animals for medical research is a much more difficult point than using animals for food
  • it’s not easy for everyone to go vegan
  • questions of overpopulation of animals and invasive species are not always easy to tackle
  • a world without animal farming is not obviously the most ecological world there is (though it can be the least cruel one)
  • it’s definitely possible to be unhealthy on a vegan diet
  • there may be some reasons why you or some people would ever eat meat (even if it’s just this one)
  • for each of us, there are differences among animals and the rights they should have. There are grey areas and line-drawing issues (think of some sea animals, insects, including mosquitos…)

Whether it’s during public speaking or in individual dialogue, my advice is to not pretend you have all the answers. And if you don’t know the answer, say so. Concede some points. If something is not proven or not conclusive, admit it. People will be more inclined to listen to you and to trust you.

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