This is something I’ve been thinking about lately.
A few months ago, someone asked me if I’d ever backed down or backed away from an argument or going after something I’d fixed my sights on. “Never,” I replied.
And hasn’t that been a tiring way to go about life!
It’s hard not to engage in that kind of thing, especially when so many others pride themselves on their skill in shouting down – literally! – any who disagree with them. So what do you have to do to get heard in that situation? Shout LOUDER!!!
Are arguments really even actually won on the merits of fact these days? Or is it more like two dogs growling and barking and verbally threatening each other until one dog backs down out of self-preservation and the other dog trots off smugly, thinking this means they’ve actually won and proven somehow that they were right.
Politics, religion, war, vaccines, tv shows, whose turn it is to wash the dishes… how many of these are “won” at the cost of damaging a relationship, a life, a country, a planet?
If you’re really convinced you’re right and your side is sound, then what does it cost you to politely listen to the other side? Really listen, I mean. Not just hearing the noises that come out of their mouths and into your ears, while you’re busy formulating your counter-argument to verbally beat them down until they submit to your will?
Trust me, it’s just not worth it. Go ahead and disagree with me. If you can’t even listen calmly, sympathetically to the other side, and the only basis for what you believe is right is a religious-like fervor and a loud set of lungs, and stale repeats of the same tired old info, then I’ll respect your right to your religious beliefs, because it sure isn’t based on facts.
Just because you say you’re right and “a million other people” agree with you, doesn’t mean I’ll agree that that is fact or that you’re right. And in the past, I’d stand toe-to-toe with you and loudly debate that with you ’til the cows came home.
But not any more. It’s just not worth it and there are far better pursuits for me to put my time, effort and energy into. How much damage do we do when we must win at all costs?
How high a cost is too much?
And even after we’ve paid that price, we still may not win. What then? Do we choose to reflect upon our own choices and the quality of judgement we used? Do we re-examine our stance and our “facts” or beliefs and see if perhaps we may have miscalculated or been in error? Do we resolve to do better and to make amends to the folks we hurt along the way?
Or do we sulk like petulant children and blame everyone and everything else, even fictitious things, as the reason we didn’t win. Do we walk off with a smile on our faces, blithely ignoring the trail of ruin and acrimony we left in our wake? Or do we actually feel exultant BECAUSE of the hurt we inflicted upon others?
When will hurting others cease being an “acceptable” price to pay for how we choose to pursue “winning”? And when will we realize that when we trample over others to win, that we haven’t really won at all?