The first instance which prompted me to think about it was, unfortunately, the death of my uncle a week ago tomorrow. He had been sick for several years, and passed peacefully. And the thing I will remember most about him was that he was the first adult to challenge me. When you're a kid, adults tend to either lay down rules and punish you for diasgreeing, or allow you to believe you're right (even if you're not). But my Uncle Simon and I argued. For example, he didn't have a microwave in his house for ages, for fear of the radiation they emitted. He was convinced they weren't safe. I never understood that, and we had some heated discussion about that. Another example was the ends of chicken bones. He railed against me for wasting them, insisting that the antibiotic quality was lost if I left them behind (a fact which, of course, he is correct about). But I remember arguing with him, disagreeing with him, really being challenged.
But I learned from that. I learned to defend a position I believe in. I learned to think critically about both sides of something. For example, what did I do after the microwave argument? I looked it up. In BOOKS, because we didn't get the Internet for another few years :) I learned that an argument doesn't always have to be personal, or emotional, or even particularly hard fought. But when it is, there's something to be learned from it. And in later years, when we spoke less often and he would let me know he was proud for all the work I was doing, I don't think I ever told him what role he played in that ability to reason and debate. I wish I had.
|Thanks, Uncle Simon. You're looking pretty fresh.|
I'm glad I had someone so special in my life to teach me the importance of challenge, and particularly glad to be able to see it exemplified in two professionals who I admire for their ability to challenge others, and to challenge me in dissecting their discourse.
How do you deal with challenge?