Debating the Issues
By Sandy Long
Debating various issues with people who have a differing opinion has always been a favorite hobby of mine; it is how I learn and grow as a person. While some might say that I am very opinionated and set in my ways, I always at some point consider the other person’s perspective and at times adjust my thinking on a subject. To say that I have learned many things from these types of debates is an understatement.
Many people like to debate issues; politics, religion, policy within a company, family matters and social situations come to mind. Everyone had an opinion on these types of things and most do not hesitate to state those opinions; some times heatedly. If a debate gets heated, does it mean that the people have no respect for each other? Not in most cases, it just means that they care deeply about a subject or are worried, in the case of just plain wrong thinking on the other person’s part that the wrong thinking person is being misled or does not understand the situation clearly perhaps due to inexperience or lack of knowledge.
At times, in debate, personalities enter in and this is where a very real problem comes in. When a debate gets heated, some quit debating the issue and attack the other debater personally or instead of debating the issue at all, just attacks. The flip side of this coin is when a person who is just stating their opinion is thought to be attacking the other personally when in reality they just want to debate the issue. This can lead to misunderstandings, hurt feelings and anger which is all counter productive.
Some people take this misconception to high levels and begins to attack other people, who may have a differing opinion, beyond personal and go after that person’s reputation, career or even in some extreme instances, life. This is the negative side to debate and totally unnecessary. If continued, the person who is the attacker loses credibility at the very least and in extreme cases can face criminal charges for slander and libel.
Debating is really very simple; here is an example:
Person A thinks that God is female. Person B thinks that God is male. Person A, who is a student of history states that the original creator was female in prehistoric times up to about 5,000 years ago when a more patriarchal society developed due to war and invasion. Person B quotes the Bible which always says that God is male. Both have valid points from their viewpoint. After the debate, where each states their arguments clearly, both agree that: 1. it doesn’t really matter what God’s gender is. 2. That God could be both genders or androgynous….or they both still think the same way, but respect the other’s opinion.
Debates on religion can become very heated at times; look at all the wars that have been waged in the name of religion and the debate of whose religion is best or right. Those are the clearly negative aspects of debating topics like religion.
A person’s experiences shape their opinions on various subjects. Here is an example of that type of debate:
Person A has been a respiratory therapist for over 20 years and is required by her/his job to take continuing education to stay up with current treatments. Person B has just graduated respiratory therapy school and is starting her/his first job. Person A thinks that person B doesn’t know anything because of lack of experience, while person B thinks that person A is not up on current procedures and treatments or is not fast enough due to age in doing her/his job.
Person A and B have to work together on a patient and afterwards talk about the treatment getting into a debate because person A did something that she/he had learned to do years ago and had found worked due to experience. Person B, after the discussion, thought about what person A had said and started using the technique her/his self making them a better therapist.
The dark side of this type of debate is when person B might think that person A was disrespecting her for her lack of experience and instead of debating the situation or knowledge, starts screaming at person A and starts running to the supervisor over everything person A does rightly or wrongly trying to cause person A trouble.
The internet world of today offers many possibilities for debate of issues in forums and groups. Much information is shared in this fashion, but the net offers people forums who would not necessarily find anyone to listen in times gone by. It also provides anonymity to users and posters who can use the net either in a positive way to exchange opinions and ideas/problems and find solutions; or in negative ways to try to damage other people who just have a different way of looking at things or who asks questions someone cannot answer due to lack of experience or knowledge.
One must remember that just because someone posts a differing opinion on a forum, it does not mean that they are saying that the other person is wrong, they just think about an issue differently and perhaps are trying to educate the other forum members to a different way of looking at things. As we saw in the first example about God’s gender, issues do not matter one way or another and are not worth shedding blood over or getting angry. As we saw in the second example, if one listens to someone else’s opinion, one can learn how to do something better or think of something differently due to the other’s experience if one does not take debate personally.
Debate remains one of my favorite things to do and I am sure that some will disagree with my assessment of it; that is fine with me. You are entitled to your opinion same as me, let’s debate the issue and perhaps one or both of us will modify our opinion at some point, just do not take anything I state as my opinion personally; I will still respect you as a person if not a friend even if we agree to disagree.