I’m going to start out by admitting that I hate to argue. I will avoid it whenever possible. I don’t like confrontation and prefer to internalize all emotion. So, chances are that I am not going to engage in an argument if it is possible to avoid it altogether. I may, however, engage in a discussion about opposing views. What about you?
Now, what if I told you that technically those two scenarios are the same thing? There is an art and a strategy to an argument. Argument is meant to be a persuasive battle of wits and words. That is why synonyms for the word argument include defend, reason, present, discourse, and debate.
Unfortunately, I rarely witness this kind of argument. We don’t debate. We just attack. Logic, reasoning, and strategy have been replaced by heated emotion and childish name-calling. I’m tired of it. Calling someone a socialist, a racist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a fascist, a feminist, or any other -ist or -obe word does little to advance the discourse on a topic. Nobody likes to be put in a little box with a label, so putting someone in one of those labeled boxes insinuates that change is not possible. Yet, a label is not a form of reason or debate. For now, the debate has been transformed into an attack about a label rather than the facts of an issue.
I’m not sure what kinds of labels people have for me. I don’t think I easily fit into a box. If I were put into a box, it would be like those Russian nesting dolls but with boxes. I’m a box in a box in a box in a box. Put a label on one of those boxes that says disgusted. I’ve narrowed down what I will read on Twitter and can’t even stand to get on Facebook anymore. It’s not that I don’t care, but I have a hard time biting my tongue (or pulling my fingers from the keyboard). I want to discuss issues and respond with an artful argument. Such remarks are only met with angry name-calling or assertions that I don’t know anything (usually from people I don’t even know). I really and truly want to understand the reasoning behind other viewpoints. I assure you I will never present an argument without knowing the facts, and the only name I want to be called is Dr. Goodwin. So, I’ll just stay quiet and read a book instead.
I guess you could call that an argument in favor of polite argument.