Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Father the King of Debating!

My father was the KING of debating ... he would take the opposite side of any subject just to have a good debate. As a teenager this sent me crying to my bedroom many times, I thought he was so mean and did not understand me at all! As an adult I found myself doing the same as my father, what I realized is that I knew a whole lot about BOTH sides of a lot of things! My father believe in order to truly understand a topic you need to look at it from different angles and actually know those angles enough to 'take that side'! He read everything and was able to take which ever side was opposite to me!

I was thrilled in college when during a class we were going to debate a subject which many were very passionate about. The professor asked each student what side they wanted to be on and to the disappointment of many he put them on the opposite! I aced this assignment, this was easy, I had already really looked at both sides, just like my dad taught me!

So, my father passed away 14 years ago and I miss him dearly. As much as I thought this was one of the traits of my fathers that I disliked the most, I now believe that I miss this the most. There are very few people (at least in my life) who can just take the other side with such passion.
So recently I 'played like dad' and posted to an online group an opposite opinion about something to just get people thinking, BIG MISTAKE! The moderators closed down the topic because everyone was getting 'mean'. Well, that is what trigger the thoughts of my dad and debating so I did a little research and found this great website on debating. And I posted a quote and the link with the group because I think it is so important and I will share it here with you:

Taken from:

"If we don't want to live in a dictatorship, we must be vigilant to preserve our freedoms. If we wish to preserve our freedoms, we must be informed on the issues. Being informed on the issues requires that we become acquainted with alternative points of view. The history of the development of civilization can be seen as the history of debates on issues. In democratic societies, there must be public debating. Newspapers have served this purpose and still do to some extent in this country. However, we seem to have lost awareness of the importance of debating since the days of Thomas Paine. The sixty-second sound bite has created the illusion that the important issues are all brief and cut-and-dried. The importance of debating issues is fading from the public consciousness. One principle aim of The Truth Tree is to increase awareness of the importance of rational debating. But constructive debating is an art. "

The link will take you to the website which goes on to give information on effective debating!

I think the internet is a great resource. It has become a HUGE way to communicate and with so many people from so many places! But there are challenges because with written word it is much more difficult to read ('hear') tone and so I think we frequently take a hostile approach to differing views.

So my point, well I am not sure I have one ... that is a funny thing about me, I can talk forever and never make a point (just ask my dearest hubby) ... no really I think we should all brush up on our debating skills, be passionate but not defensive and listen to ALL sides of the story!

I once heard someone say: "listen well ... listen with the intentions of what the other person is saying is going to change your mind."


Tricia said...

Debate is healthy and necessary. It's critical for our social and political systems, for our families, our communities and for our marriages. We can never appreciate a fuller perspective until we look at the opposite side and open our mind. It's something we have to teach our children, and I'm so glad you're teaching yours. My own father always encouraged me to be curious and to never accept something at face value, even from people in positions of perceived authority, like my teachers. Those lessons have served me well throughout my life and I hope to teach my son the same. If we never question and disagree, we never learn. Conflict is good.

Anonymous said...

Debatng on the internet is so hard because people are usually more aggressive and antagonistic then they would be in real life. I am glad that you haven't given up.

I agree with Tricia though. If we never question, we never learn. I try to get my girls to question everything and always know the whole story before deciding which side they are on.