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Sunday, 11 November 2012

Did so! Did not!

They say it's the woman who always gets the last word in an argument, because anything a man says after that is the start of a new argument.... Hmm, I'm not sure that I agree, anyone dare to have an opinion on that?

I guess I've always enjoyed a good argument. Not the "Yes, I did"..."No, you didn't" variety, though I'm sure I engaged in many such exchanges as a child...

As a high school student I wasn't very good at sports and was never that involved in inter-house or inter-school competitions - until I discovered debating. It was awesome, legalised arguments! The school library had a huge dictionary, literally 30cm (12-inch) thick, from which I could glean the most obscure definitions, creating arguments that came right out of left-wing.

And it was no problem debating topics or arguing a case when I privately had no opinion at all, or even agreed with the opposition. That was half the fun. Rugby emasculates. And I hope you can forgive my expressing just a little pride in my teams who won 30 of their 33 debates. The good part was, that as first speaker, I always got to speak twice.

I enjoy talking and I enjoy a mature discussion, the mutual expression of ideas, the consideration of questions which probe the exterior to discover the truth, to learn why people think the way they do, to understand why they believe what they believe. What do they really care about? What's important, to them?

They say one should never discuss religion or politics in a social setting. Too bad, I'm gonna break that rule. Religion and politics fascinate me. Maybe that's why I enjoy reading blogs and political commentary, though it does get a bit sad when the bloggers/commentators take on each other rather than the point in question.

I know I approach a lot of things as an idealist, and that's okay, you have to have something to attain to. And I can handle the reality that not everything is black and white. But we shouldn't fall into the trap of thinking everything is grey and tolerance is king. I've coined a new word on that one - mediaocre - when the fourth estate tries to have a bob each way, and in trying to please everybody ends up pleasing nobody. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe.

In contrast, my Dad tells me I was always sure of what I was sure of. Maybe that's why I'm a fan of the letters from the Apostle Paul. He presents a point, throws in a few ifs and buts, and rebuts a couple of possible counter-arguments - but the reader is never left in any doubt as to the point he's trying to make.

There are of course risks in having a strongly-held opinion. I have a friend who plays a superb devil's advocate, but the difficulty is, they often end up believing their own rhetoric. And here's a thought: It's all very well winning an argument, but is it worth it if you lose the relationship?

I've discovered in my household I have to be a good sounding board. After all, a woman has to get through about 17,000 words a day compared to my manly 2,000. Um, wrong again. In checking my facts for this post, I discovered there are those who disagree with that concept, and they've got the research to prove their case. There went another belief...

So perhaps on this occasion the last word should go to my friend, Ian Clayton who says "People only argue when one person is not listening."

I wonder if it was his wife who said it first....

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