One of my previous struggles was getting involved in arguments. Despite my wife's expressing her concerns for my involvements in chatroom or forum arguments, I would still find myself in an argument. When someone says something wrong, I would feel that I would have to "set him straight." I would argue and argue until you admit I was right -- or until you were just too tired to keep going.
Let me say that NOBODY has ever admitted that I was right.
Yes, I would be proud of myself! I knew I was right. I was educated, had more enriching insight than those who argued with me (or so I thought), and, well, I just loved the thrill of a good argument.
But then, I slowly realized something after being involved in many arguments in my lifetime: nobody ever wins an argument!
Nope, nobody walks away persuaded by the other person. Instead, everybody walks away more angry at each other. Even if you believe that your argument was extremely logical, you still can't win an argument.
You see, there are several reasons why a person has a certain position that includes:
- Emotional attachment. That person is emotionally invested in his or her position.
- Upbringing. That person was simply raised differently than you.
- Perspective. The other person sees things differently than you.
- Involvement. If the person is actively involved in an issue (e.g. getting a divorced, parenting, homeschooling), you can't simply convince a person to stop what he or she is doing.
- People involved. That person may not be actively involved in an issue, but perhaps has loved ones who are involved in it.
Trying to win an argument isn't a matter of who's right and who's wrong. If you've ever been in an argument, you'd know that an argument is more complicated than simply finding an answer to an equation.
The main reason arguments are so dangerous to a relationship is that people don't understand that a person's position is almost that person's identity. That is to say, when you argue against a person's position, you are arguing against everything that makes that person who he or she is.
For example, let's say that you don't believe in spanking your kids. You are in an argument with someone who does believe in spanking. You tell that person that you believe spanking a child would cause him to be violent when he gets older. How does the other parent interpret your argument? "Oh, so you think I'm a bad parent?" Well, when you make the other parent think that he is raising a criminal...how else is he to interpret what you're saying?
Or let's say that you do believe in spanking and you tell the other parent who doesn't believe in it, "I spank my kids because I love them." How is the other parent to interpret that? "Oh, so you're saying that I don't love my kids?"
Let me tell you something about arguments: logic doesn't count! It doesn't count because logic is colored with our emotional investment, our upbringing, our personal involvement, our worldview, etc.
There is really one thing in this world that our logic is completely pure: math. Two plus two is four. Period! There is no way to get that answer wrong. Besides math problems, your logic is colored. We truly look at everything (besides math problems) through "rose-tinted" glasses.
When you get involved in an argument, you already have shown that you:
- Don't understand why a person has a certain position.
- Don't understand that issues aren't black and white.
- Don't understand that no matter how hard you fight, you will NEVER win.
On Facebook, I would have friends who would look at everything I've read (or presumably have read) and respond as if I've written something else. Ever had that happen before??? I would look at the responses and think, "Why do you think I would even say that when I CLEARLY didn't say that?" But you see, it shows how logic is rose-tinted. It doesn't matter if I think what I said was clear. It's all about how the other person interprets it. Interpretation runs an argument.
And what is interpretation? Rose-tinted logic.
So, after understanding everything that goes into what a person believes, should I still continue in an argument, then I'd be a fool! An arrogant fool! Because by continuing in an argument that I know would go on and on, I would show others that I am simply arrogant and that all I care about is being right and making the other person look stupid.
Shamefully, I have been an arrogant fool in the past. It's still a bit of a struggle for me to keep away from arguments. It's hard to not respond to someone else's rebuttal! But, I am learning more and more everyday that all arguments are petty, time-wasting, energy-draining, and they would produce more enemies and friends.
Now, I know that this article isn't going to necessarily convince you to stop arguing with people. If anything, let this article be something for you to think about. It's okay to not debate someone on everything they say. Just leave it alone. Or if you absolutely MUST give your input, just give it and leave it alone. Someone would disagree with your input. And that's okay. You've already given your input and that's all you need to do. Go on to other things.
Sometimes, as cliche as it sounds, you just need to be willing to "agree to disagree."