Monday, April 05, 2010

"I Disagree" vs. "You're Wrong"

I'm all about the philosophical process, here. In some cases, it might be fair to say that I'd rather think about a particular problem than actually do something about it. It's not that I'm not a doer, but rather that I find endless fascination in the conceptualizing of a thing. What if this happened? What if we tried this? Has anyone ever tried this? I'm also a dyed-in-the-wool Devil's Advocate, such that I'll pretty much take any opposition side to whatever is presented to me. Again: it's not that I'm without beliefs and opinions…it's just sometimes much more fun to make hay and take the opposite tack.

Which puts me in mind of the decidedly argumentative nature of American society today. Blame it on the 24-hour news cyclone, blame it on increasingly distanced forms of communication…hell, even blame it on the "I ain't here to make friends!" mentality of (un)reality TV; whatever cause you care to give it, we've become a really surly, bitchy, "Fuck you!" lot. And that makes me kinda sad, because while I think there's always room for discourse, always room for another opinion at the table…I don't wish to make room for "Talk to the hand!" arguments. And god, even as I type that, I really see where that bitchiness comes from: "Talk to the hand, 'cause I ain't listenin'!"

So, yadda yadda blah-blah-blah, "American civility down the crapper!" and all that stuff. Whatevs. I simply wish we could get to a place where saying "I disagree with you" does NOT equal "You are full of shit." Politics, the blogosphere, even driving…we all seem so consumed with satiating our own egos that we don't bother to even listen to what the other person is saying. So, we end up going for the throat: "You're wrong!" Instead, can't we listen to each other, and when we disagree, simply say so? We can say so vehemently, but with respect: "Man, I could not disagree with you more, it's like we're from different planets or somethin'…but, okay, if that's what you think, you're welcome to it." That's still not very nice, nor subtle, but it's volumes different from "You fucking moron, I can't believe you even pretend to have a brain, the best part of you slid down yo' mama's ass-cheek!"

Gah. What started out as a well-intentioned post has devolved into something I've worked on in too small of snippets, over too many days. I feel like I've lost my own point, so naturally any eloquent arguments I might have had are gone as well. Just…look. Here it is: disagree with each other. Fine. American way and all that. But at the end of the day, remember that whatever hash-brained thing YOU think is absolutely the right thing, the ONLY thing, there's someone else out there just as convinced that the polar opposite is true. And he probably has "facts" and "quotes" to back up that position. Can we avoid the "He said/She said" arguments and try listening to each other for a change?


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