One Other Thing…

Itanya’s recent comment reminded me of something else I realized at the bar: I often find myself debating to win, not to learn things.

There are times where this is appropriate; however, winning as the default reaction to debate makes discourse more difficult. This attitude also has to change.

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9 thoughts on “One Other Thing…

  1. Exactly!

    But there is also something to “win.” That smug feeling that you’re smarter/better than someone else. I’m beginning to see that that kind of attitude is not helping me. I have to wonder if it ever did.

  2. You know what I’m only just starting to learn over the last year, which I used to know better than I do now? I should not give a fuck what other people think.

    The killer detail here is that, when it comes to certain important issues, I want people to be *exposed* to other ideas, but I accept that people don’t have to think alike. But when it comes to stupid shit, like games and movies, it is important that people think what I think… or at least think that what I think is valid.

    This comes from going 18 months with zero confidence, I think.

  3. Personally, I’ve found that getting someone to think differently about an issue is successful.

    Getting angry and or sticking your fingers in your ears singing ‘la, la, la’ doesn’t really help (not that you were doing that, just that I’ve seen it done).

    You also have to be open to thinking about things differently yourself, and seeing things from another point of view.

    This can be really hard, and something that many people struggle with (including myself). Some POV are very hard to understand and in the end, may be too much energy (ex. racism). But understanding a system of like fascism (in Italy in the 30s) is still useful – to understand how/why it flourished and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    So, for me, usually if I can understand where someone is coming from, and perhaps get them to think differently about a point, I feel successful. My own father, for example, still tries to give me the argument that gay marriage diminishes his own marriage vows. As you can imagine, I have a hard time understanding this. A really hard time understanding this – other than I know his religious views mean a lot to him, and these beliefs (about marriage) come straight from his religion.

    My father in law argues that debating is no longer taught in schools. In fact, I distinctly remember being taught how to debate, but what my FIL is referring to is building an argument, establishing facts and making points. I agree with him, I think we’ve lost some of that rhetorical skill.

    We’ve also lost some of the canon of information with the media and internet. Just because I’ve read something on the internet doesn’t make it true, just because a study comes out on issue X doesn’t mean that there aren’t larger issues going on. It also doesn’t mean everything on the internet is false – just that it’s important to find multiple trusted sources. Conventional wisdom is such difficult thing to gauge – but when it changes (like it has with global warming) – it really changes.

    Speaking of gay (human) rights, things have changed (for the better) since 1993/1994. And even since the sixties, when being gay was still listed as a mental disorder in the DSM IV.

    Back then, an openly gay person or couple on tv was almost unheard of. Gay celebrities going through commitment/marriage ceremonies? Unthinkable. Society moves slowly – but many things have changed. Even in my own extended family, there are openly gay grandchildren/cousins.

    I too wish things would move faster – but it takes time to build arguments, and to tear down the barriers. Education takes time.

    Just some random thoughts. I wish you luck. I think the fact that you’re even thinking about this shows depth and maturity.

  4. As much as we might wish for things to change more quickly, it is probably best that they don’t. When things change too quickly, people (I mean in the broad mob sense) tend to get nervous and do stupid shit.

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