I find it more than a little odd that so many people seem to desire the closing of public fora. It seems to be to be a trend mostly on the left side of the political spectrum, though I’m sure some in the center and on the right, want this as well.
The argument most often employed seems to be, “What you say can and does harm me as much as does physical activity.”
I should say at the outset, I find this contention to be horribly unfortunate. It shouldn’t ever be true that what one person says to another, has the same effect as what they do. That’s regardless whether the result is positive or negative.
That’s not to say words have no sway over us at all, just that the expression of ideas and concepts shouldn’t have the same weight as things done to us.
Here’s the major problem with the idea that what I say is a bad as what I do. If we wish to discuss the best way to deal with a given thing, be it a situation, a circumstance or much of anything else. Without open dialog, there’s a high risk we’ll never reach the optimal answer if we cannot converse openly.
I should make it plain here and now. I’m not talking about people shouting things (particularly not rude or obscene ones) at others. I don’t say they shouldn’t be allowed to do that, just that it’s by no means an aid to civil discourse.
And that’s my primary purpose, civil discourse. I want to openly chat with others about what they believe and why.
To what end? It’s all about potential outcomes. Each of the four listed below has merit.
My favorite, because I, like everyone, am biased, is the idea that I can help someone to see where they’re errant. Put simply, it may be possible for them to change their mind assuming they realize what I say is accurate. I want to be clear though, I only want that to happen if another is convinced of my rectitude.
I don’t like it as much, but it does and must happen as well, that others manage to change my mind. The same caveat applies here. I want to be certain they’re correct. That said, if they can get me to change my view, it’s almost as good an outcome as if I’m able to get them to change theirs.
The third is, when I find things about my “opponent’s” portal on life that make me change my outlook in some measure, and my co-combatant does likewise. This is really my second favorite, though at times, I like it best of all. We can teach each other and all in the self-same conversation.
In the last possible end, we come away disagreeing, but understand each other better as a result. I had a conversation with a young man recently, in which he upbraided somebody else for something she did, arguing she should’ve known better. I maintained that, where that was true, she wasn’t wrong for hoping to see good in humanity. He had a very strong perspective in one direction, I in another.
Even though we left the discussion in disagreement, I know his position better, and I hope he knows and can respect mine as well.
I developed a sort of philosophy some time ago, it probably echoes that of some profound thinker, I couldn’t tell you. The basic tenet was, “Good interaction between two people rarely consists of, ‘Nice day huh? Yep, sure is!’.”
The point is, where pleasantries are not bad, for the most part, they’re not all that helpful either.
When one sits down with one’s fellow persons to hash out the things upon which there’s disagreement, so much can be achieved if we agree to be civil and open our minds.
As such, unlike so many, I actually enjoy those meetings that’re typically referred to as arguments or contentions.
The rain on that parade is bad behavior. When one or both of those dissenting spend their time in unproductive ping pong, or resort to something silly like fisticuffs, I tend to jump off the bus unless I can help to pull the offender(s) back from the brink.
When I’m at odds with others though, I learn some of life’s most important lessons. Sometimes they’re taught by my fellow travelers, sometimes I learn them in spite of them. In the end though, if we can remain calm and work to reason out our conflicts, the results can be amazingly worthwhile, even if we come away still at odds.
There are three skills you must learn if you want to practice this type of interaction.
The first is dispassion. You need to be able to largely remove emotions from the back and forth. That can be hard at times, no doubt. If you can master it though, you’ll find your ability to cogently put forth your position and potentially, to convince, to be that much better
The second is to be able to recognize that your companion in discussion has some sort of investment—whether or not it involves the heart—and gently urge him or her to consider your position, even though it works against what their presupposition argues in their ear.
The third can be termed humility. Another way to put it, is “A recognition that I too, make mistakes.” Without this, you can remain convinced of things that are assuredly invalid.
In the end, the point of this little piece is to indicate that disagreement and argument are not inherently evil or problematic things. They can even be considered necessary ones. Evolution of ideas, even for a single individual is largely predicated on one’s ability to have contentious discourse with others. Arguing that this is some sort of aggression or violence is something that can easily be turned back on the one doing so. Rather, you ought to hear others out, then apply what you know to the best of your ability. In doing so, you may potentially achieve amazing results.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.