Marti's Theory

Why I Don’t Play Any More

Posted on: April 18, 2016

My high school didn’t have a debate team. However, I did participate in de facto debates is our Government and Civics classes, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  One that I particularly remember was debating the pros and cons of capital punishment, where I was assigned to the “pro” side.  We researched it, gave a great presentation and won the debate.  Woo hoo!  The irony is that 17 year old Marti was definitely NOT pro capital punishment.  But it was a game and I was pretty competitive back then. Plus, winning feels way better than not winning. Debating was what I considered “good sport.”

And today, I see many people continue to feel the exhilaration of a good debate.  No, I’m not talking about those preposterous presidential things on TV that pass for a debate.  Those have devolved into something closer to Jerry Springer or studio wrestling.  Even the candidates who I respect are more geared to tomorrow’s soundbites than they are to substance.

What I’m referring to is debating among us regular people. People I know and generally respect, who may or may not have the same opinion as I do.  Several friends have asked why I no longer participate in hot topic debates, particularly via social media.  Some have even speculated on why I don’t – everything from feeling bullied to not being “up on things.”  I’ve wondered myself: why have I stepped away from discussions where previously I would have jumped in, front and center?

And it finally occurred to me. It’s debate vs. discussion.

At this point in my life and the life of the world around me – I engage in discussions mainly for two reasons:

1. To understand

2. To be understood

And the concept of “debate” strikes me as counter intuitive to the process of understanding.  If I listen to another person for the purpose of preparing, in my mind, how to counter his position, then I’m not really listening, am I?  And vice-versa.

I’ve actually managed to have one or two brief discussions, mostly with people who see things differently from how I see them, and mostly because I’m curious about how a seemingly bright person could be so wrong-headed about an issue. [see what I did there? self-deprecating humor wrapped around a chunk of truth]. In those cases, I only listened, and did not explain how I see things. Why? Because I wasn’t asked, so figured I wouldn’t really be heard. Those discussions didn’t change my own opinions, but did open my mind a bit.  And then I moved on.

Same way with social media.  If something holds a promise of new information, I read.  If not, I scroll by. These days, I do way more scrolling than reading.

Because here’s the thing about pretty much any hot button issue and how we assume a particular stance or action will play out:  No matter how convinced we are, no matter how much data we find to support our position, it’s still just an OPINION.  (ooooh, I bet some people quickly disagreed). And we are so close to the issue that we tend to forget it’s only our viewpoint, and not an absolute.  In most cases.

But then again, this is only my opinion.

 

 

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8 Responses to "Why I Don’t Play Any More"

Aloha Marti:

In My Opinion, Wisdom Cometh!

Trust God and Do the next right thing.

Amen.

Joe

Amen. I can probably wipe the floor with most people in a debate (I’m trained to). But to do this with my free time? No. On FB you’re either preaching to the choir or shouting at a wall. Neither of these things is rewarding for me. Being right isn’t as important to me as being heard, and nobody’s listening anymore, they’re just waiting for their turn to talk. I will share stuff I like, I will defend a position if necessary, but that’s it.

Marti, I just can’t come up with anything to counter you with. 😉 ❤ ❤ ❤

If you like the Steelers, it was a good call and the Steelers won the game. If you like the Cardinals, the call was wrong and the Cards should have one. My question is, can you recall changing your opinion on an issue and why? I’m asking myself the same.

Yes. Two things popped into my mind.
First one – I was slow to get on board with marriage equality. I was an HR Director at the time, and was focused on things like health benefits, parental rights, etc. I noticed that people who were crazy opposed to same sex marriage didn’t mind the idea of Civil Unions (which gave partners benefits), and that seemed like the path of least resistance, so I was a supporter of Civil Unions instead of same sex marriage (plus I was not that big on marriage, anyway. Larry and I bought a house, had a kid, stayed together for a decade – but never got around to getting married, lol). The uncomfortable part was that this was not a popular stance in my socially liberal circle, so I mostly kept my mouth shut. (as I currently do, regarding the fact that I still like Hillary Clinton). I remember listening to a commentary by Keith Obermann, who I don’t really like, who’s take on it was “what do you care? It doesn’t affect you?” and it hit me: he was right. I switched and fully supported gay marriage. Takeaway here is – it’s not comfortable to not agree with those I choose to be around me.

2. Both Mark and my son’s dad are Republicans. This was back before the Republican party got hijacked by far right crazies and He Who Shall Remain Nameless. I would have endless, heated discussions with them about various issues – mostly government legislating what business could or couldn’t do. Every now and then, what they’d say made total sense (on a specific issue) and I knew it. But in that “debate mode” it’s really hard to back down. (That’s the takeaway). I would, but only after I thought about it in the bigger picture. And on the occasions I told them that they had a point and I agreed, their gloat wasn’t as intense as I thought, and it actually helped them be more open to why I saw it the way I did. (Takeaway #3)

What does it say about me that both examples are at least a decade old??? lol

Right now there are a few areas where I’d be willing to concede some points, in a decent, civilized two-way conversation, where both “sides” are really listening. Those areas are transgender bathrooms (I’m “for” but have concerns that nag at my liberal bias), gun control (for, but agree that it won’t help re: illegally purchased weapons and don’t think it’s a total panacea) and womens’ rights re: our own bodies (only that I see a paradox in us pro-choicers who want to legislate ban on drug/alcohol use for pregnant women).

Good question, Mitch! (and I deleted Ronnie and changed it to Mitch. I am trainable)

I guess the bottom line is – it’s not easy to let go of an opinion, and it’s even harder to go against the grain of those we choose to listen to and to surround ourselves with.

I will, however, debate Clapton vs. Hendrix for the rest of my life.

PS: Clapton rules.

I’m still “Ronnie,” Marti. Yes, I relate to your honesty here. The gay marriage thing went against some of our ingrained “involuntary thinking” if you will. But once we realize a few facts and experiences, that seems to influence or change our opinions. Of course, the mind has to open first! Awesome essay, Marti, in my opinion.

I am a Jimi guy. Wonder how he could have progressed if he had a chance to move forward from the psychedelic era.

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