I’m Right and You’re a Jerk! The 6 Easy Steps to a Civil Political Debate

It’s been a long day: work was terrible, lunch was terrible, the cable is out, and it’s been pointed out to you for the umpteenth time that you need to do something about that fallen tree messing up the front yard. To make matters worse, your cheap electric chainsaw is spewing black smoke and sparks, and your neighbor wants to argue about the president!

What to do?

Options: curse; throw a tantrum; throw the chainsaw; combine all of these in the neighbor’s direction.

And while this may be momentarily therapeutic, long term, maybe not. You may need a little neighborly assistance when you miscalculate with the new chainsaw and inadvertently pin yourself under the tree when you foolishly cut the wrong bough at the wrong time. It may also be against the law. Stranger things have happened.

The big problem, naturally, is that you and your neighbor have diametrically opposed opinions of the president, or whether your local football team really should have drafted that guy!

While uncommon-wink, wink, nudge, nudge-these differences of opinion occasionally come up, and in this age of charged political debate, I’d like to offer a simple solution: pistols at 50 paces!

Just kidding.

Now, from the title of this piece, one might assume that my solution involves 6 steps. It does not. It was just a way to get you this far into the post because I vaguely remember reading at some random point in the past that it might work. But I do have a few well honed ideas, mostly from experience arguing with people who consider me a numbskull or a blithering idiot for holding views diametrically opposed to theirs.

Hard to believe, but true.

The first, is that, despite the other part of the title, I’m not always right. Again, hard to believe, but true. However, as discussed previously in this blog, truth is subjective. Therefore, as a sop to the person I’m arguing with-in the classical sense of the word versus the pistols at 50 paces sense-I’ll agree to actually check out his reasoning and viewpoint, if only to move the conversation forward.

Radical, but on occasion I find they might have a valid point. This may cause me any number of sleepless nights before conceding, but as a growth thing, often suggested to me by any number of self-help books on how to control temper-tantrums, I’ll mumble something to that effect the next time we meet.

That does not mean I’ll change my beliefs, something else the self-help books might suggest, but it does mean I don’t know everything, which I’ll vociferously deny.

The other idea involves recognizing that the other person is a person with their own strengths and frailties and we should be cognizant of that even if they’re nuts.

After all they may hold a similar opinion about you or me.

Where does that leave us?

At some point, hopefully in the near future, it’s possible a certain exhaustion will kick in and as a society we may choose to let go of the angry shouting vibe for a more live and let live vibe, so long as neither side uses state power to coerce the other.

I can dream.

©2019 David William Pearce

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