Worthy Adversary

13 Jan

Worthy Adversary

Are you one of those who enjoys disagreeing?

If so, when you disagree, why do you do it? Because you believe or feel yourself to be right? Because you want to change the mind of the person regarding a  tenet or statement with which you disagree? Because you want to change the minds of others within listening or reading distance and create a coalition of like-minded supporters? Because you want to divide and conquer?

Or do you disagree for the principle of the thing?

Disagreement is woven into the fabric of the United States. To some extent, you might call it freedom of speech.

It seems to me we have lost the art of disagreement. By that, I mean we have come to the point that disagreement now means the proverbial drawing of a line in the sand. It has come the “I dare you” threatening stance physically and intellectually. It has degraded into the “get your dukes up” mentality.

Disagreement v. debate

We’ve lost the art of debate. Debate is controlled disagreement [my definition]. Did you ever take a class on debating? Have you ever participated in an organized debate?

Two sides square off over a controversial issue. Each side researches the issue and puts together supportive facts. Then, in turn, two presenters deliver their argument. Much like in a court of law, where the Prosecution and the Defense argue the merits of a case before a jury. Once initial arguments have been introduced, each side has the opportunity for rebuttal.

It’s a controlled fight, albeit with words and not fists. There is a decorum about it — rules of order. The disagreeing sides don’t call the other side bad, or stupid, or degrade or debase them. Each side regards each other as adversaries — not to-the-death enemies. At one time, debaters have referred to the opposition as “worthy adversary.”

Imagine that!

At the end of the day, the participants shake hands, complement each other, and move on to the next debate.

Now we live in a day when debate seems a thing of the past. Our legislative bodies, at state and federal levels, have taken on tactics that should embarrass us as a nation. Who can shout the loudest? Who can insult and give snide retorts and comments? I think it would actually kill some politicians to refer to the opposition as “worthy adversary.” Perhaps because worthiness has taken a beating along the way. Perhaps because that politician is beholding to a particular point of view come hell or high water, and fears losing his/her seat in office.

Debate? Worthy adversary?

I’m not surprised little is accomplished in Washington. No one knows how to intelligently argue, debate, listen, or — dare I say it? Compromise.

And that attitude has filtered now down to you and me. Just look at Facebook posts. Look at the memes. I’d like that to change. I’d like more civil debate and less name calling. I’d like issues dissected intelligently. I’d like arguments to be thought out well, and not backed by irrational emotionalism.


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 13 January, 2016

One Response to “Worthy Adversary”

  1. Outlier Babe January 14, 2016 at 1:04 pm #

    Yes. As one who falls into the over-generalization trap, herself.

    (You made me laugh with that ending 😀 ).

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