Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Online debates, however, are of a different breed. I've been in many, stating my case for whatever I happened to be arguing about that time. Whether it was politics, religion, sports or just nonsense, I'm often involved in some type of debate. I find them fun, try not to offend anyone, and always do my best to not take myself too seriously.
It's not always easy. I have myself had to walk away from arguments, go back and delete comments, and even apologize. My biggest gripe is when it gets personal. All this to say, I've noticed that I'm changing a little. I don't debate nearly as often these days to try to convince someone that I'm right. It's not that I don't want people to change their minds, putting themselves on my side of the debate (which of course means they are right). That is okay. I've found that the thing I look for more often than anything else is that someone understands my position.
You see, I don't mind if you disagree with me, as long as you understand why I believe what I believe. I have been in many debates where the person who disagreed with me didn't really disagree with me at all. They only disagreed with a position they assumed I held.
Please don't misunderstand; I'm sure I have fallen into this trap myself. I am certain that I have argued with people I didn't understand. This is where it gets so critical, though, to ask questions and listen. What do the people who are disagreeing with me actually believe? When using certain words, do these words mean the same to them that they do to me?
One lesson I've tried to apply to my life over the years is this one; listening isn't waiting your turn to talk. In debates, that is essential. I hope I never listen to someone long enough to disagree with them. I hope I listen to them long enough to understand them. Then the real discussion, and possibly debate, can really begin.
Posted by Stephen Miller at 4:59 PM