Arguing against Arguments

This post is selected from my earlier blog page, which is currently taken off the web. Looking back at it, I feel there was a lot of anger behind this writing. But, I can’t figure out what the circumstances were then. Anyway, I may have got a few things right. So, I would recommend it to you. So, here is Arguing against Arguments, first posted on May 2. 2009.

Part of the package that comes with living in Kerala is the arguments. You just can’t stay out of arguments. I have the habit of staying away from arguments as far as possible. Can we avoid arguments? What is the structure of an argument? Why does it arise? Every argument comes from disagreement. Apart from the disagreement, there is something else. Haven’t we heard about the two people arguing whether a number is ‘6’ or ‘9’. The problem would have been simple if either of the two had gone to the other side and looked at it from that angle. Opinions are a matter of perception. You like a thing or you dislike it. There is no particular rule which says that you have to like it or you have to dislike it. But, why a person likes it or dislike it, can be understood with a little tolerance and perseverance.

A friend of mine, during a heated debate, once said, “Actually, Kashmir must be given to Pakistan”. It was a different point of view. But, he never got to say another word. The whole crowd around him rose up ensnared. My friend was about to explain why he thought so. In the thick of the anger, however, he couldn’t complete what he started off. To this day, I do not know what his reasons for saying so, were. We must be open for ideas, no matter how far-fetched or unrealistic it seems. Can we fill a glass full of water? To add a little ‘evian’ to a glass, we must throw away a little ‘bisleri’ from it. The idea is to learn, unlearn and relearn.

The idea is to listen with your mind open. Sometimes you may be hearing the truth and you may feel that it is wrong because you already have a preset notion in your mind. You only wait till the other person stops talking so that you can start talking. You are waiting to throw your argument. What if the other person is, indeed, speaking the truth? Does he lose something? Or, do you?

An argument is a show of power. It’s either muscle power, or money power. It’s either the power of your wealth, or it’s the power of your knowledge. But, it’s always a power stunt. It’s the lack of tolerance that starts off arguments. There are always the unconvincing ideas, the half-truths. For example, different political parties have different agenda, owing to the difference in ideology, caste, religion, region and even gender. It is often difficult to evaluate one in the light of another. To each party, the agenda is a set of action that benefits the people of the same category as that in the party. It is, then, a self-centred proposition.

We cannot always try to understand the way others look at things. Sometimes, we may be the ones with more current knowledge and the other side, the ones with a more obscure image. Tolerance must come from within our selves in such cases. We must respect the other side’s right to an opinion. It’s not fair to argue with somebody when he is not yet ready to accept the truth. Examples will help, maybe. Facts will help. But, if a person is not willing to throw the water from the glass and listen with two ears full, he is difficult to convince.

We reach this point, during various facets of our life. Life cannot be enjoyed if everyone in the world held the same opinion. It is the most knowledgeable people that must tolerate the most. The more knowledgeable you are, the more you must stay away from arguments. In my opinion, there shall be no arguments, if one participates in constructive discussions. Discussions are on par with arguments, minus the heat and the unwillingness to learn, unlearn and relearn. Each party to a discussion can construct their next words based on what the other person speaks. There are no ready-made answers in a discussion. You have a point burning in your mouth. You want to talk about it. But, if it is irrelevant to the topic discussed by the previous speaker, you end up being ignored. Eat your words, then. The flowchart must be, listen –> learn –> listen –> unlearn –> listen –> relearn. We are one more step closer to avoiding heated arguments, angry exchanges and even worse, dirty fistfights.

Write in to suhailrasheed@gmail.com and speak your mind. I can give you a ear. I can try to understand your opinions from your viewpoint. Thank you for reading. Good Day! Good Night!

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