While this principle was first introduced to me through my faith studies, the principle is universal. Paul was teaching publicly in the town of Berea. The people of this area did something unique to Paul’s experience. It was not that they were already inclined to agree or disagree. They were inclined to study what he taught to see if it was sound teaching. The word Paul chose to give to this mindset was nobility.
One does not have to be faith-oriented to be noble. It is also true that being faith-oriented does not imply someone is noble. It might also be accurate they won’t universally agree with like minded people, or disagree with people who are not like minded.
Not Traditional Nobility
Nobility traditionally has been seen as a class that speaks to riches and power. Here the term speaks to how we know society would work better. Imagine a society where those in power were practicing the ‘good noble’ mindset. The point is not to say rich people are evil or that they are not noble. That depends on each individual.
What makes good nobility special is that it is marked by curiosity. Curiosity and confirmation bias have trouble coexisting. We all have biases. The issue arrises when our biases are protected without meekness.
One of my biases is not grabbing a hot cast iron pan with my bare hand. This says that some biases are not false. Those biases are aligned with facts and truth. That bias is not threatened by being curious or what some would call open-minded. Being meek does not make us gullible or blind. It simply means we are aware there is more to learn in life.
On the other hand, I have seen many people doubt things they knew to be true because someone with a different general belief system was pushing that point of interest. If we lived in Mt. St. Helens before it exploded in the ’80s. It would be very beneficial to be of a ‘good noble’ mindset. There are also these things called tsunamis. It seems odd to be afraid of a huge wave for those on the shore when the waters are pulling away from the shore. Yet, that is actually a sign of something fierce to follow.
It is clear that, typically, having a noble mindset will lead to better outcomes without putting people at risk. It is not fear, it is not a novice, and it is not easily manipulated.
Good Debates and Arguments
Debate based on collaboration over collusion. We mentioned above that there are common causes of acting ignoble. This is the mindset that expresses contempt we are speaking of here. It is when we lack dignity. We see this with politicians, news media, and often with inlaws. Even worse, we see this with parents, children, husbands, and wives.
This is very interesting because we start out curious and questing for perspective. Then bad experiences trigger a victimhood mindset that locks our brains in the past and limits our creative influence of the future. We become bitter, paranoid, or lacking nobility. Confirmation bias always has a motive.
It is also positive the motive could be for good. Some things are an individual preference, while others are hard facts like hot pans, tsunamis, or exploding volcanoes. The people who wanted to stay behind at Mount St. Helens were not evil people or people wanting to end life. They were people with terminal biases that cost them their lives. Well, that is for about 57 that died there when the explosion happened.
Thus a belief in a good we desire or a bitterness we remember can blind us with bias. The good may be possible, but bias and inward-mindedness tend to work against collaboration. The lack of collaboration tends to erupt into competition. Parents debating opportunities for children with each other is one example. When we see the debate as adversarial, the chance of noble thinking is greatly reduced.
Those of us who have been in the workplace can likely list half a dozen of these adversarial debates with little effort. So, if a vision for good can drive adversarial debates, imagine the mind of both sides subject to fear, bitterness, and similar thoughts. This is when we start to trigger each other in what is called collusion. While that doesn’t have to stop, it is not the predictable path to winning.
How to Become Noble
There are things each of us should give up. One of them is control, where it is not your responsibility or not within your power. It is influence that is needed in these situations, and the fight for control is the greatest way to destroy the positive influence and inspire negative influence.
Nobility is our mindset, not something we can require of others. When we engage in arguments, the thing we want most from the other side is nobility. We don’t always want them to agree, but it would be a different experience if the discussion doesn’t degrade into a quest to find points where the other people in the argument were wrong. So, do we invest energy to acknowledge points others make as strongly or with as much volume as we object to flaws in their arguments or teaching?
These need to be genuine, not fake or patronizing points, used to show we earned the right to present counterarguments. Nobility sees the people on the other side, not just the principle being debated. It does not matter if the opposition to our motives is noble. The only way to call for the nobility of others is to continue to practice it. This, again, is an influence, not a control technique.
This is unlike buying a hat and wearing it to become magically noble. It is a journey, and it will require renewal and refreshing. The world is a messy place that often inspires us to believe nobility is vain. The truth is we sometimes want to yield to fear, bitterness, or another negative motive, and they will not co-exist with nobility.
The Reward of Good Noble Mindsets
When we reject nobility, we reject opportunity. When we embrace it, we improve our ability to seize opportunities and reap personal or group rewards. Nobility expands what we influence without being distracted by the distraction and myths of control. It helps us to understand what we see without translating something in front of us to mean what we do not yet know.
Nobility benefits me even if you reject it. Nobility also benefits you even if I reject it. It clarifies our thinking and keeps us focused or open to what matters most. Predictably this will give anyone a better life over the weeks, months, years, and decades ahead. There is no way to predict individual circumstances turning out better because of nobility. Predictably, each situation has a better chance, but again, we cannot say whether this one will be a win or not. The goal is a better journey and better outcomes at large.
So, while I would invite you to come along on the noble journey, there is a better invitation. Nobility is one of those few subjects that making it about you benefits everyone. What will your future look like? The greatest guilt is the one we carry because we betray ourselves. The greatest freedom is one where we are true to ourselves. This isn’t objective truth based on shifting emotions but truth based on noble thinking, proof, and, well, being truly objective.
(How Will You Influence Your Future Today?)