I saw a meme flash across my Facebook page the other day.
It captured the heart of what’s been on my mind recently.
My eldest knows this best. This individual is a tween who will soon be ushered into the teen years, like it or not. As a part of this adventurous era, this child has to figure out how and when to assert her authority. Not taking that growing process as a personal attack can be challenging sometimes. Okay, challenging all the time. Especially when she’s bound and determined to point out that she alone is right and everyone else is wrong. Everyone. Including me.
If we’re going to argue by presenting evidence to establish a point, she’s picked the wrong person to try and win the fight.
It isn’t just that I have a few years of life and experience on her;
that much is true.
More importantly, I do this sort of thing for a living.
I was trained to do analytic philosophy. I learned to recognize (and formulate) good arguments from bad ones, poor reasoning from good reasoning, and the like in the graduate program where I got my PhD in Philosophy.
I’m not saying I’ve mastered analyzing arguments. Neither am I proclaiming I know everything about them. Far from it.
But, I’ve learned a few things about arguments and engaging in them:
- No one knows anything with certainty. We’re fallible beings. We make mistakes all the time. Not one person has an omniscient view.
- No matter how thorough I try to be in considering relevant information, I still won’t have an exhaustive, comprehensive view of things. Figuring out what happened with the kiddos when they’ve fought or something’s disappeared is a sobering reminder of this.
- I’m aware that my own prejudices, preferences, feelings, and attitude color my judgment.
- Arguments, outside academia, often result in feelings of hurt, frustration, and abandonment. They do not facilitate the building of relationships or community.
So, here’s my meme.
Engaging in arguments doesn’t really happen. We’re not having rational discourse. Have you seen Monty Python’s Argument Clinic? We’re shouting to be heard, and then we scream at our alleged opponents to overpower their voices.
Doing that with our friends or family would be like inviting a bomb cyclone to wreak havoc on our relationships.
We experienced one, a bomb cyclone that is, here in the middle of this week. We didn’t just have a normal, run-of-the-mill blizzard. We experienced a bomb cyclone. I don’t have much clue as to what that means, other than we had super low barometric pressure. It wasn’t pretty.
Many of the public schools closed before the storm started. That never happens. But, the weather forecast and the damage from it was THAT bad.
1,110+ motorists were stranded.
There was a 100-vehicle car accident.
Rescuers needed to be rescued.
Some 184,000 Xcel Energy customers in Colorado had power outages.
The winds from this blizzard was the equivalent of a Category 1 Hurricane.
I don’t want that to happen with building relationships and community.
So, I’m going to try to avoid arguing, especially to be right or wrong.