I’m an arguer. I’m incredibly opinionated and love a good debate. I’ve developed three basic rules for debates.
- Never insult a person, criticize an opinion
- That means I won’t call someone brainwashed or stupid. My debate isn’t whether the person disagreeing with me has worth—all people have worth. My debate is about the worthiness of their opinion.
- Kill them with kindness
- If you read my previous post, you’ve seen the arguments I’ve had with family and the struggle. Often, people will insult me when I thought we were having a healthy argument. In keeping with rule 1, I don’t sink to their level. Instead, I remain kind and respectful. I will be as sweet as possible because angry reactions don’t work
- Know when to let go and leave the debate
- I prefer to win or for us to reach a mutual agreements, or at least remain respectful to one another. I like when debates have a respectful end. That just can’t happen every time. I’d love for it to, I’d love for us both to learn things and move forward, but it just can’t happen every time.
The hardest part for me is letting go. When I feel passionately about something, I want to talk to people, I want to encourage people to become aware. I will bring up sources, studies, information from well-educated and respected individuals. Many times, more often than I’d like to admit, it feels like I’m speaking to a brick wall. I express my opinion, and I’m told I’m a brainwashed liberal media drone who needs to get educated.
I want to strike back. I want to beat them down and tell them that I’m far from uneducated, I’m not ignorant. I want to scream that just because my opinion opposes theirs doesn’t mean I’m some ignorant asshole who spouts thoughts without thinking about them.
But I don’t.
Sometimes, I just have to let go. I have to let go of any frustration or anger I may have. I have to let go of my goal of learning and sharing knowledge with that person. I have to let go of the idea I can help expose this person to ideas that they either hadn’t heard before or adamantly opposed.
A few weeks ago, I made a comment on someone’s Facebook post. They posted a meme that said: “If you don’t want to be shot by the police, maybe you shouldn’t commit crimes.” I commented about Tamir Rice—the 12 year old boy who was shot and killed while playing with a toy gun—and John Crawford —a man shot in Wal-Mart while holding a BB gun he had picked up inside of the store. The man who posted it, a cousin of a cousin, justified their deaths. Regardless of the fact that both people were shot in Ohio, an open carry state. Regardless of the fact that both the man and the boy had toy guns and weren’t doing anything other than standing around and playing.
With this case, I had to walk away. He called me ignorant, hateful. He said I hated all cops and that I should get shot because I don’t support the police. Normally I would include screenshots, but he blocked me shortly after our conversation.
I don’t think I can ever change his mind. I don’t think I can ever change the mind of a man who thinks the murder of a 12-year-old child is completely justified. All I can do is continue to post information, and see if people eventually change their minds.
During the 2012 presidential election, I had another friend who was a die-hard conservative. He went to Romney rallies; he was outspokenly right-wing on all issues. He was respectful about his beliefs, and I respected that. I respect when people follow rules similar to my own in regards to conversations about political opinions. Over time, his political opinions have shifted. In less than 3 years, he’s gone from Republican to supporting Bernie Sanders. Change is possible.
Some people have told me I’m too political, that I’m too opposed to the Republican Party. They’re more than welcome to that opinion, but unless they also say that to the equally conservative people, I think they’re hypocrites. On my newsfeed, conservative friends shared statuses comparing the Confederate Flag to sagging pants and said that the latter was more offensive. I have had conservative friends sharing articles asserting that Obama is the literal anti-Christ.
I don’t mind if people disagree with me. I mind when people assume I’m stupid and tell me to tone it down, while not saying a word to those whose opinions are on the opposite end of the spectrum.
But, like many things, I have to let this go. People won’t be fair, it’s against our nature. If all I can do is be kind, I’ll do my best to manage that.
I’ll choose my battles wisely, and I’ll try and get better at letting go.