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02:12 pm: Speaking with the Opposition

In light of the contentious political subjects among us today, I thought it might be helpful to someone if I shared a few thoughts on what to do if you want to talk about the issues and you would prefer a discussion instead of an argument

The key is to remember this one, hard-bought secret: He is not the opposite of you.

Here is what I mean:

Liberals and Conservatives today are both people of great character. Many of them hold convictions requiring tremendous nobility and courage–convictions for which they would willingly die.

But their convictions are not the opposite of each other. In fact, they are seldom related at all.

Examples:

War.

Conservatives are often for it. Liberals are usually against it. Why is that? Is one good and the other evil?

Conservatives think war is necessary because real bad guys won’t be stopped by nice words, no matter how much we wish they would. However, they also think war is evil and scary. Yet, they are so loyal to the ideals they believe in that they are willing to summon the courage to face this terrible fate. They will go forward because they are brave enough to do so…out of love for that which needs defending.

So, obviously, anyone who does not agree with them must be a coward. Therefore, all Liberals are cowards. Brave men hate cowardice. Therefore, it is very, very difficult not to hate the Liberals.

Liberals look around and they see that war solves nothing. All that fighting, all that killing, all that waste. The net gain is never worth the price. They see this so clearly. Anyone with even a little intelligence could not miss it.

So, obviously, anyone who does not agree with them must be stupid. Therefore, all Conservatives are stupid. Intelligent men despise stupidity…especially the deliberate kind in people who should know better. Therefore, it is very, very difficult not to hate the Conservative.

Health Care.

Conservatives worry about men’s freedom and the logistics of the drawbacks of socialized medicine.

Liberals care about compassion and helping the little guy who is suffering.

The Conservatives are often compassionate, not selfish like Liberals assume. They are willing to die for to protect the freedom of men they will never know.

Liberals often care about freedom. They think the freedom to live is necessary to be able to enjoy the other freedoms. They want to defend this freedom.

If a Conservative wants to convince a Liberal, he has to start by establishing that lack of compassion is not what motivates him. It is because he does feel compassion for his fellow man that he does not want a program that will make things worse for those fellows, not better.

If a Liberal wants to convince a Conservative, he has to start by establishing that he does know how the system works and the many disadvantages of socialized medicine—everything has drawbacks. So, one might as well make oneself familiar with them. He has to make it clear that he understands that some of the good things we have now will go away. And then explain why he believes that the overall gain will be greater than the loss, why those drawbacks are worth the price.

Gay Marriage.

Liberals care about tolerance and fairness. Conservatives care about morality and decency. Many Liberals think those terms don’t mean anything…but if they want to convince Conservatives, they need to understand what they do mean and discuss why gay marriage does or does not offend those concepts.

Conservatives, on the other hand, need to discuss the matter in terms of fairness and toleration and explain how those concepts do or do not figure in to the subject.

Conclusion:

Basically, what this comes down to is: If you want to have a real discussion with the other guy, you have to find out what he thinks. Arguing in favor of what you think will only produce a knee jerk reaction from him—because he’s never going to hear what you are really saying.

If you want to convince the opposition, start by finding out what members of their group say on your side. (A pro-gay marriage Conservative or an anti-Obamacare Liberal) Both sides have discussions among themselves, members who don’t agree with the majority. They often have arguments that are couched in the terms that apply to the convictions of their party.

If you argue along these lines, you will be able to hold a civil conversation, even if you do not convince anybody.
And you will come closer to having sympathy for your fellow man, even if he does not convince you.

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

Comments

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From:juliet_winters
Date:June 28th, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
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Nicely put. I do agree. I just wish so many weren't keeping score and thoroughly enjoyed the process of mowing down their opponents just by shouting. Though that doesn't gain them what they think. They haven't convinced anyone. Just shut them up in their presence.

Example: some of my relatives could not understand how Bush won the second election. After all, everyone they spoke to appeared to agree with them that the man was a war-mongering idiot. What they did not get is if you shout at people of conviction who dislike shouting, their silence does not mean agreement, and as long as we have free elections they will continue to be shocked that the world isn't the way they think it is... the way they demand it must be.
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From:annafirtree
Date:June 28th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
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There's also that whole phenomenon where people tend to only hang out and listen to others who agree with them, so the existence of the other half of the nation who disagrees with you can go unnoticed.
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From:juliet_winters
Date:June 28th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
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Very true. I was once treated to a keynote speaker railing about how the sides wouldn't listen to each other. It was extremely ironic. She was a petite thing and talked about how she wanted to pound some sense into the other side's head so they would -have to- listen to her.

I had to listen to her since I was there for work. But I tuned her out.
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From:full_metal_ox
Date:July 2nd, 2012 10:58 pm (UTC)
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I'm reminded of a heated political discourse--the word "discussion" would imply that actual conversation took place--with a guy who was turning literally purple in the face agreeing with me--as he would have learned had he deigned to allow me a word in edgewise.

(Hope you don't mind my wandering here from metaquotes.)
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:July 2nd, 2012 11:14 pm (UTC)
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Some people are most interested in the sound of their own voices. There's not much you can do with them...unless you agree with them in which case you can let slip the dogs of discourse if you've a mind.

I used to be quite neutral on subjects and would try to break up these kinds of going-nowhere arguments between friends with reason. Showing them where they agreed. But that isn't what they wanted. They wanted to strut their intellects.

[User Picture]
From:full_metal_ox
Date:July 2nd, 2012 11:26 pm (UTC)
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(I left another comment further down, with an encloded link, that got screened as spam; shall I repeat it with the URL trimmed?)
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 3rd, 2012 03:46 pm (UTC)
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I think I have unspammed it.
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From:full_metal_ox
Date:July 3rd, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC)
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Thank you very much, then.
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 3rd, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
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Welcome and very funny!
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From:corwinofamber
Date:June 28th, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC)
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Elegantly put, dear lady. ;-)
*(salute)*
I wish more people understood your point.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:June 28th, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
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Corwin...I am extremely honored that you dropped by. Not ever day we get a visit from Interdimensional royalty! ;-)

As to more people understanding...well, one can hope with time maybe there will be. ;-)
[User Picture]
From:kokorognosis
Date:June 29th, 2012 12:01 am (UTC)
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This really needs to be all over the internet, Jagi.
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From:arhyalon
Date:June 29th, 2012 12:03 am (UTC)
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Feel free to repost it anywhere you like. ;-)
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From:corwinofamber
Date:June 29th, 2012 03:30 am (UTC)
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In that case...

Meta-quoted... ;-)
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From:starshipcat
Date:June 29th, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
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Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I've become increasingly concerned over the past several years about how both sides are coming to regard the other side as acting from evil intent, of being moral monsters who shouldn't exist. I frequent online fora on both sides of the political spectrum, and have heard some truly appalling discussion -- talk of firing squads, of re-education camps, of things that should have no place in civil society.

We cannot maintain a civil society unless we can have a civil discourse.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:June 29th, 2012 01:02 am (UTC)
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Exactly!

The worst thing about not paying attention to the real issues is that you cannot help thinking the opposition is REALLY EVIL if you think they believe the opposite of what you believe.
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From:lignota
Date:June 29th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)
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Here from Metaquotes. Well said.

!

And I did not realize that you were also the author of that trilogy I recently finished reading. *flails*

Edited at 2012-06-29 03:47 pm (UTC)
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From:arhyalon
Date:June 29th, 2012 05:15 pm (UTC)
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Cool! Thank you for dropping by! (Nothing more delightful than having someone who has read the trilogy drop by on my birthday! ;-)
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From:joisbishmyoga
Date:June 29th, 2012 07:54 pm (UTC)
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Here from metaquotes, and I do agree with much of this post. However, I have to take exception to the line that liberals don't think morality and decency mean anything. Maybe I can't speak for all liberals, but I think I have a pretty good idea of moral and decent. Just because they don't match up with the conservative a/o homophobic a/o Biblethumping definitions doesn't mean they aren't valid.
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From:arhyalon
Date:June 29th, 2012 08:32 pm (UTC)
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That is why I said many liberals. Some are very keen on these things...I was. But some Liberals I speak with sneer at anything that includes the words morality or decency.

I should say, they are often moral and decent people! They just don't seem to like that particular language.

I should have been more specific and made it clear that I meant the words specifically...that they don't use those words...not the ideas.
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:June 30th, 2012 06:21 am (UTC)
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I can't track it down, but wasn't there an Eighteenth Century definition of a Gentleman as 'One who does not use the word'?
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From:full_metal_ox
Date:July 2nd, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC)
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From the context of faux-Victoriana, there's also this wonderful idea from one Captain Jack Havock of Steampunk Empire, reflecting upon the courtesy and gentility he's had the good fortune to encounter in that subculture; I would have Metaquoted the hell out of it had it occurred on LJ:

I believe that the PUNK part is reverse punk, because so much of today's society is ill mannered that we ARE the punks by rebelling that.

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From:bojojoti
Date:July 3rd, 2012 11:43 am (UTC)
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There are so few people who are willing to listen. There are so few people who haven't taken sides and dug deep trenches from which they are unwilling to budge. They think there is a war going on, and they are determined to win that war--at all costs. It doesn't matter what is right or true--it only matters that they win an meaningless, empty victory. I see it on both sides. We need to stop thinking that it is us versus them, because we're one body, and if we start amputating pieces, it benefits no one.

Thank you very much for this thoughtful piece.

Edited at 2012-07-03 11:44 am (UTC)
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 3rd, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC)
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You are welcome.

I think what we need to learn is that just because we have strong opinions doesn't mean the guy who doesn't agree with us is evil.

People can be wrong without being evil. ;-)
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From:houseboatonstyx
Date:July 3rd, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
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As a former Goldwater Girl and a continuing Lewis fan, I certainly agree with that! And as Lewis said, what appear to be differences in 'morality' may be differences in knowledge.

Looking for common ground can open deeper gaps, though. Now liberal, I think there's a pattern of more trade and communication making for less war-among-equal-nations, thus eventually war will become obsolete (though that time may still be long in coming). But some conservatives may say that Man is fallen and will always need wars. So there opens a theological gap deeper than whatever issue of conscription or tax may have started the discussion.

So could you take your thesis a little further, and perhaps give some examples of productive discussion?
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From:arhyalon
Date:July 3rd, 2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
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Hmm... I will try to think of one...

I would say a productive discussion is any discussion where the two parties don't walk away hating each other. They can disagree, but with understanding and respect. ;-)

If I can find a discussion topic that I get a good idea about, or a discussion I've had to repost, I will.
[User Picture]
From:duskpeterson
Date:October 17th, 2012 03:55 am (UTC)
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Yes.
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