My belief about debate no longer works. I thought debate was a form of dialogue where different points of view were presented and there was progression toward a greater understanding and solution. In this process there was a possibility of new ideas to be brought into the conversation. Some would be quickly dismissed and others would stick.
Debate as a scientific evidence approach to thinking and philosophy. The creation of possibly and the systematic process of eliminating the impossible. The emergence of truth.
But that is not what it is anymore, not from what I see. Debate has become toothless for discovery and just barks platforms and talking points. For something…against something. The issues get lost in division and the cementing of “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
At some point the thinking shuts down regardless of the side one is on. It moves from any semblance of working toward solution. It becomes about winning – sort of. It becomes about defense really. About not backing down.
This happens on a large and small scale. There might be a moment of clarity where a valid point by the opposition hits home, but rarely will it change anything. If it does then we may actually have a back and forth quaint enough to be called a debate.
Pro-life against pro-choice. For or against death penalty. For traditional marriage or marriage equallity. Not a debate. They are entrenched postitioning. No dialogue. Not actual points (just those talking ones).
And it all comes down to fear and avoidance of that fear.
If I can demonize my opponent then I can be a crusader rather than a scared little person in a cape. I can be a hero for a cause and follow a pre-written script rather than have to walk the dark and lonely path of self-debate in finding a personal truth. Rather than having to write my own story I can just mimic the lives of others.
People talk big and say little. But what comes across clear is how fearful they are of actually having a debate – a dialogue.
So let’s choose to be brave. Let’s actually listen to those we have been fighting. Let’s work to acknowledge their fear and acknowledge our own. Let’s be less eager to defend our position. And aspire to civility.
Thanks as always,
With civility ~ Brian