Quite often the purpose of an argument, debate or spoken viewpoint of opposition is simply a call to be heard. Your opinion matters, of course it does. To you. What you think makes sense, is based upon what you have seen, heard and read. Your experiences make up the present day culmination that you perceive to be your knowledge and wisdom. Simply, your subjective perception of reality.
Those of us who understand and accept that, for the most part, verbally armed altercations do not and simply will not convince another of our side of things, we can at the least instill in them a small amount of doubt concerning their own side. After all, we doubt our own. At least we should. Not to the point of not having any convictions or personal stances on issues of import to us, but simply that we may be wrong or mistaken in what we accept. I use the word accept, as acceptances are like ideas and can be changed and allow for doubt and introspection.
And there is nothing wrong in being mistaken, or ignorant of certain facts you hitherto did not have knowledge of. In fact, we are quite often “wrong” in what we know or do, as we refine our practices and ourselves to better effect. We are always in a constant state of flux, ebbing and flowing with trial and error. Yet so many become distressed, sometimes violently so when their experience and stance are found wanting. Why not just thank your teacher for the moment of clarity and look into it? Always doubting, and never taking things at face value, we study and research the considerations presented to us. Study, not worship.
Because most teachers, while not actually teachers at all are simply those with various insights or repetitious study of any particular subject that have no better desire than to shove their shit in your face to prove their rightness through your wrongness. Somehow, because they knew the reason the sky was blue and you were mistaken in your understanding, this somehow makes them better. You know the type, sneering and full of derision, noses in the air with that passive aggressive voice of pretentiousness. A word against them invites ridicule of bad form, losing sorely or acting the child.
There are ways in dealing with such tactless nincompoops, but that is a lesson for another day.
Needless to say that, even should they be right in their espousing of the facts, it certainly does not ingratiate you towards their point of view. And quite often, the act of such pigheaded know-it-all-ness shuts off the ears and minds of those listening from hearing any truth being said. While as rational people (if you are indeed one) we enjoy learning and growing in our understanding of the world, having things lectured to you in a condescending fashion does not promote an environment of acceptance.
So how can we help others to see our point of view, or simply doubt their own enough to research further and hopefully come to the same conclusions as us? Because we are right after all. Well as my mother-in-law is fond of telling my wife, “Dear, you get more with sugar than shit.” This is a play off of the old adage, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” While we are not looking to collect flies, my mother-in-law is perfectly correct. If you present your case for their consideration and cite your sources and understanding effectively, allowing the opposition their say with equal promotion of what they think happens to be correct, you stand an amazingly good chance of giving them at the very least some food for thought. Which should truly be your main purpose in any point of disagreement.
Being pleasant and amicable, respectful yet firm in your ideas will not only allow you to be viewed as a mild-manner sage of wisdom, but also in the instances that you happen to be wrong (and you will be wrong sometimes) it gives you the avenue of graciously deffuring to another with greater knowledge than you. Which I honestly cannot stress enough that there is no shame in. I personally don’t believe in shame but again, that is another lesson for another time. If you are in the proper setting, and with current technological advances putting unlimited resources of knowledge at our finger tips, you may even strike up a little study session with your adversary. And maybe even take a snap shot of smiling faces with thumbs up or down (depending upon who won and lost) and send it along its way down the social media highway. Perhaps you’ll even find a kindred soul and fellow scholar of whatever subject happened to pull you both (or more as the case may be at times) together. Misery loves company after all.
In addition to not being a completely ineffectual advocate for whatever side you choose to profess, I must also simply state that if you do not know something, or are not sure… DO. NOT. OPEN. YOUR. MOUTH. If someone looks down on you because you don’t know the Latin term for a great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) or which kind of mushroom is used in the making of psychedelic drugs (Psilocyben cubenis is the most common species) then their sad little world can just do without you and your detestable inability to know the most useless and random of factoids . Unless of course you’re a marine biologist or mycologist (respectively). In which case perhaps you should rethink your career choice. The only thing people like less than a loud mouth braggart know-it-all is a loud mouth braggart know-nothing-at-all that acts like they do. The sign above my desk, “People who act like they know everything annoy those of us who do” lightheartedly warns those who visit to mind themselves. Part of knowing everything is knowing when to simply keep your mouth shut. But I’m open to the idea that I do not indeed know everything. That’s part of the whole knowing everything too.
The long (see above) and short of it is that if you are going to bother with someone and their differing opinions, why would you go into it with any other intention than to engage in a productive exchange? What possible purpose does a knock down drag out match of raised voices, colorful epitaphs and hard feelings serve? And while there is something to be said (I certainly advocate the hell out of it) for baiting a particularly obnoxious blusterer into acting the fool, responding in kind to such verbal projections is simply playing into their hands. Yet again, another lesson for another day. If you are to spend the time and energy in engrossing yourself in such an act as discoursing with another person, have a goal in mind or wish them a good day.
You and you alone should make the decision of how to, if at all, approach a situation or individual. Is it worth your time, do you know enough to feel comfortable promoting your side and perhaps most important of all… what do you gain from this support for your position? Is it truly to educate the ignorant, create doubt in those teaching others and free a small part of the world for a short time from false information? Or are you just looking to open your mouth and act as every bit despicable as the person you view with such distaste?
Sugar, or shit. Your choice.