Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Argue, Debate or Tolerate by Barbara Edwards

Ague, debate or tolerate by Barbara Edwards

I am an opinionated bitch. I will argue about politics, religion, ecology, economics and anything else you express an opinion on that I disagree with. I wasn’t always like this. I was nice. I debated. A debate is where each side takes time to express facts to prove their point. They do this politely.  They take turns and don’t yell over the other person when they’re speaking.
OMG, I was tolerant. All on my own I understood that I didn’t have to agree with everyone else.
Then some idiot in the government said I couldn’t tell ethnic jokes in the workplace. Tolerance, yuck. This quickly became church, picnics, anywhere people gathered, I had to be careful. Someone, and I’ve never been introduced to this important someone, might have their feelings hurt by my crass tongue.
I happen to like ethnic jokes, jokes about sex, about political figures, anything that makes me laugh. So sue me. Yikes! I guess they might. Is that the same someone I’ve never been introduced to?
Sure, to make it fair, I’ve been the butt of jokes. Anyone who’s been a mother or a wife has had the tables turned on them. And I’ve been both.
The point of all this? I like to hear people argue passionately about why they think they are right. This is what caused the writing of the greatest document in the world, the United States Constitution. A dozen people didn’t sit down nicely and make a list of goody-two-shoes objectives. Our Forefathers argued for years. Wrote letters and essays and public opinion pieces then turned around and wrote arguments back to those who disagreed. The pen is a powerful tool. Even when ink was finally on paper, it wasn’t finished since they still argued and added amendments to make clear differences. They argued!
So when I hear someone say, let’s all agree, let’s all get along, let’s all tolerate each other, I want to scream, NO! 
It is my right to speak my opinion. In my family, I had eight uncles who fought in WWII, cousins who were in Viet Nam, children and grandchildren in the military who gave blood and honor to insure that right. If you don’t like my opinion, then express yours. I will listen with respect, then agree or disagree.
This is the only country in the world where this right is given to all.

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39 comments:

Diane Burton said...

What an impassioned post, Barbara. You feel very strongly about this subject. I'm one of those who hates arguments. I've been know to argue with my brother & sister whose politics are different from mine. But then they start quoting "facts" that I can't disprove with facts of my own and I give up. To me, it's not worth the discord in the family.

Maureen said...

Great post! I've said as I get older, I have less of a 'filter' ;)

Ashantay said...

Interesting post. Comedy is essentially a way to bridge differences by pointing out similarities. When you laugh with someone it's harder to point a gun at them. Not impossible to do, but when you see yourself in another, you can appreciate the other's viewpoint, even as you disagree with them. Our society has forgotten this important distinction. There is simply too much "my way or the highway."

Jannine Gallant said...

What bothers me is people who can't hear any opinion but their own. I see it splashed all over Facebook. They wear blinders and argue passionately for their point of view and summarily dismiss any opposing position. They won't listen to the opposition--won't hear what they don't want to hear. This seems to be our problem in politics. If the other guy says it, it must be wrong. "La, la, la, la I'm not listening. I'll reject everything you say without considering its merit." Makes me angry. I'm all for people listening and considering that others with different opinions may have a point and debating the possibilities. Our world would be a more peaceful place!

MJ Schiller said...

Like Diane, I'm not big on arguing, unless it's something I'm passionate about--like child abuse--or know a little about--like education. Even then I prefer a civil conversation over a shouting match. I'm actually all for being respectful of other people's feelings and trying to get along. I don't think it weakens your argument or your integrity to consider others. Over the years I have learned to listen to others because I may not be right after all and I can learn from them. Thought provoking post!

Skyewriter said...

Great Post! I so agree. I am a passionate person and find it difficult to remain lukewarm and politically correct when there are things that burn inside me with such importance and fervor. But at the same time, I can agree to disagree and respect others' rights to their passions. I so wish we could get past this roadblock of political correctness that is stifling the vibrancy this nation was built on.

Melissa Keir said...

I like a good conversation where people have different opinions. I love the thrill of the discussion where people can talk about a variety of things with conviction. It's almost sexual. Thank God my husband is like that!

Yet, I've found that most people come away with hurt feelings and then I am left fixing things. At least this is how things are in my family and where I work. So there, I keep my mouth shut because it often bites me in the butt.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Wow, Barbara. And here I thought I was 'out there' by wearing blue polish on my toes! I'm one of those extrovert middle children...I want to lead, but I'd prefer everyone gets along. It's a killer personality duality. Plus I'm a progressive playing golf with tea party women. I do not debate with these women, because the outcome might involve golf clubs. I'm thankful I've found a group of men and women with whom I can be candid...debate is vigorous. I give money to liberal causes and let others speak for me on the public stage...and Barbara, you may be one of those 'on stage' speakers!

Maggie Toussaint said...

I get discombobulated when people are selectively deaf to other opinions. Depending on the person, I'll either try to engage or say nothing. Life is too short to spend it arguing with someone with a closed mind.

Morgan Mandel said...

I agree that it seems we've lost the freedom of speech in America. I'm tired of people getting smeared for saying what they think or doing what they feel is right. I have no idea how to change the status quo. Sometimes it seems hopeless. About Facebook, well, whenever I disagree with someone, it does seem they go out of their way to be mean, instead of carrying on decent conversations. I know which ones don't have the same views, and comment on other posts that are not inflammatory, but sometimes I can't resist stating my opinion. Unfortunately, the responses usually raise my blood pressure too much, which is not healthy.

Celia Yeary said...

It's a little frightening, when others demand we speak a certain way. This is America. Since when did everyone become so sensitive that we must not hurt their feelings...or we'll be sued...or lose our job, etc.
I do not like ugly words, and I might be angry if someone calls one of my black grandsons certain names. He would have his feelings hurt, but there's no law against it. One lets everything "roll off his back," but the other one takes issue in some manner. He cannot learn to ignore and walk away.
While others might need to learn tolerance and kindness, that doesn't mean they must. And it doesn't mean a city council, or any group in the government, etc. should tell them how to act.
I do not argue politics or religion. It's the fastest way to lose friends. Besides, my views are my business, and so...I won't discuss them with anyone.
So, Barbara, you made some good points. Good for you.


Ann Yost said...

I enjoyed the rant and sympathize. I like to spout my opinions, too, and think the "debate" aspect has been seriously impaired by the self-righteous, seldom-fact-based vitriol by so-called news commentators. We have lost the element of tolerance and, with a few exceptions, the art of using humor to make our different opinions more palatable.

Joanne Stewart said...

I'm one of those who doesn't like to argue. It's too much energy put in a negative direction. Gives me a headache. That's just energy I'd rather spend somewhere else. Disagree? Sure. As long as the other person is respecting my right to say what I feel, too. But I've found that most people who want to argue don't. And that's where I check out. Cause, to quote my husband, who often quotes that video, "Ain't nobody got time for that." Rather than arguing with someone, I simply choose to spend my time on things that make me feel good, not awful, and arguing just makes me feel horrid.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Diane,
Family is different. I bet you'd defend them all from anyone else's arguments. And win.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Maureen,
Old is like fine wine, it only gets better.

Barbara Edwards said...

Ashantay,
I totally agree. Laugh with me, or at me, as long as we share the good feeling.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Jannine,
I blame a lot of that on the 'me' generation. They were never taught to respect others opinions or how to debate. They think shouting is the only way to express differences. I feel sorry for them all. They are isolated from a real life.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi MJ,
Sounds to me like you stand in a rational place. no-one needs to fight everything, just the things important to them.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Skywriter,
That's what I'm trying to share. I don't want to be stifled or to stifle anyone else. Say what you mean, be firm and fair. Life is too precious to hide under a bushel.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Melissa,
Ah, another earth mother fixing the hurts. You are the best kind of person. Able to express your opinion and then kiss away the hurt.
(here's a cyber-bandaid for the next bit on your butt. Lol)

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Rolynn,
Ohmy. I'm still deciding what I'll be when I grow up. The world has changed so much. the definitions of liberal, conservative, independent are not the same any more. Be what fits you and be ready to debate with others when you feel they are willing to share. No one spends time talking to a stone unless its in a graveyard.

Barbara Edwards said...

Oh Maggie,
That's the point. People need to learn to be open. And its hard to be in a room with ignorance cast as opinion.

Betsy Ashton said...

A post full of wisdom well worth sharing. I'm tweeting it.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Morgan,
For that reason alone I avoid anything argumentative on FB. it's too easy to be mean if you can't see the blood you spill. I want to see the eyes of the person I'm talking to. And what's in their heart.

Barbara Edwards said...

Thanks, Celia,
I have a large family with lots of different opinions. I do stir them up once in awhile, but I also try to listen and understand. I've learned a lot that way.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Ann,
I hate listening to the newscasters blah, blah, blah about their version of 'truth'. Gosh, give me an Edwards R. Murrow to tell me facts not his opinion.
Both sides lose in this battle.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Joanne,
it's all about respect. I respect you, and your opinion and you do the same for me. Makes a better world.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Fantastic post, Barbara. Makes me proud to me a Rose of Prose with you. There is nothing more frustrating than people who are so single minded they won't even consider any idea or concept that isn't their own. Too many people go through the world with blinders on. We are all in this together, one of these days, we all need to start acting like it!

Margo Hoornstra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Margo Hoornstra said...

Proud to BE a Rose of Prose with you is what I meant to say.

Cheryl Pierson said...

Barbara--I get SICK of all the "political correctness" that we have to adhere to constantly. One thing in particular really sets me off--why is it okay for one race to use a word amongst themselves but other races not to use that word? Yes, it's the "n" word. I don't like that word. But I also don't like being told I can't say it, but other people can. And no, it's not always used affectionately amongst other races, either--it's used sometimes just as a white person might use it.

I know--it shouldn't get to me, because I don't use it anyhow--but it's the WAY we have to see things now..."It's okay for one group to do it, but not for another group to do it--just because of skin color." It's an ugly word, no matter how it's used or who uses it.

And this is just one example. I'm normally very tolerant. But taking this word out of historical books (such as Tom Sawyer, etc.) because it offends, borders on cutting out ANY kind of language in those same books just for the same reason--cursing, name calling, etc. What's next? Will we revise history because it's offensive to some people?

It wasn't so long ago that I read an article on some people denying that the Holocaust ever happened. And I remember as a teenager, reading that some people believed we had not "truly" made it to the moon--that it was all a hoax.

We have to be able to speak the truth, and do so without worrying about it offending people. BTW, my mom was a big believer at being able to laugh at yourself. I do that a LOT anymore.

Great post.

Alicia Dean said...

Wow, Barbara. Great post. I believe in a person's right to state their opinion and I definitely agree, the 'political correctness' has gotten WAY out of hand. No matter what you say, there's going to be someone out there who is offended. Give it a rest, already!

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Margo,
What a nice thing to say. I keep remembering that our country was founded by people unafraid to voice their opinions and stand up. We need others like them right now!

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Cheryl,
I've wasted years of my life being 'nice' and 'tolerant' while others do or say whatever offensive things about my group, my opinions, my country while I have to take the hits. I don't want to any more. I would never purposely hurt anyone, but I want to be looking them in the eye when they complain.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Alicia,
I'm tired of tip-toeing around. Where are all those millions of whiners? I think of political correctness as censorship. Censorship by any other name STINKS to paraphrase Shakespeare.

Susan Coryell said...

The older I get, the more sure I am that I am right! I abhor those who listen to non-factual tv and radio rants and believe without thinking past their own noses. This includes some family members and I do not hesitate to let them know they are fools for not thinking through complex issues. Your blog is right on!

Stephanie Burkhart said...

Barbara, what an honest, sincere, candid and passionate post. And then the replies - each strikes a chord that resonates. I agree with so much.

I believe in being firm and fair and speaking my mind. But I am mindful about how I say it.

I believe there are people out there with blinders on to only their position. For me, those people are ignorant. There are two sides to every coin and if you don't explore that, then you limit yourself. I want nothing to do with you.

I believe the younger generation, "Millenials" grew up with a lack of respect for their "elders." Seeing them deal with people make me cringe because they have little to no people skills. Probably because they have their face in a cell phone texting most of the time.

These are the points that resonate the strongest in me.

Steph

Lynn Crain said...

I'm always a day late but I have to laugh, Barbara. This so sounds like me, or rather, the old me. LOL!

I am opinionated but living with a diplomat husband has taught me there are better ways that to argue. And I still do it. A lot it seems but now I couch them in such a way that some people apparently wonder what hits them. Frankly, I hate to agree to disagree in so many ways and will always make sure someone truly wants my opinion before I give it. Unless it's on my own blog or on my own Facebook page or group. I think those don't count.

And you are right. Argument is the way of the world. Recently, my youngest brought his girlfriend to visit us. There are things in her background that make her deplore arguments. I told her to get used to it as this family loved to argue but that each of us loved, respected and admired the others for what they believed in even if their stance was different than their own. Time will tell if she accepted my explanation.

Thank you for a wonderful post.

Judy Ann Davis said...

Great post. Can you just imagine if our forefathers hadn't argued among themselves and later with Britain for our independence, where would we all be now? Respectful argument allows for the exchange of ideas and often results in change and growth.