Sunday, March 1, 2015

Subject to Change...

I'm going to get real, for a moment, on an issue I would like to address. 
Anyone that knows me knows I love to debate. I love to play devil's advocate. You give me a topic, and I will try to see -and argue - it from multiple vantage points. This characteristic allows me to be fluid. Malleable. To adapt and change with logic and information. To progress. And this is the issue: The one thing I have learned in my years of research, discourse, and debate: being a pretentious, overbearing, judgmental, know-it-all prick is not going to sell you or me on anyone's opinion, politics, religion, line of reasoning, or get me to revise my stance on an issue. If you want me to hear you, want to engage me, it would benefit you to implement my (recently discovered as I am writing this) guidelines of respectful discourse(which I should probably have been following but HEY! I just discovered that I have guidelines, so give me a break):

First: Be polite. In discussion, make respectful requests for information, use proper names, show that you are actively listening to me by telling me what you are hearing me say. And I will try to do the same. Actively listening, instead of just waiting for one's turn to speak, can have surprising results. Many, many times, an explosive disagreement that could have been avoided came down to simply a matter of semantics and/or miscommunication.

Second: Communicate respectfully. Do not denigrate, attack my character, address my stance on other issues not related to the topic in order to call my intellect into question, or in any other way attempt to undermine me as a person. And namecalling? For fucks sake. 
Also, while being facetious or sarcastic is humorous when communicating amongst friends, in debate it is unwarranted and unwanted. HOWEVER! Humor, charm, and genuine wit can help alleviate tension and keep the discussion lighthearted and flowing.
Second B: As to swearing-well, I like to swear. It can help emphasize a point, but in civil discourse, it is not absolutely necessary (I should probably implement this rule more in my daily communication as well).

Third: Present your argument with logic, facts, patience, and RESPECT.

Fourth: Allow time for me to process new information, acquire new thought paths, reposition and expand my thinking. I love to learn, but not if I'm beat about the ass and neck with it. I learn and progress by researching, by studying, by analyzing, by hearing others opinions and statements, and then drawing conclusions. As new information comes to light, new truths revealed, this may change my stance. This is how progress works. 

Finally, I cannot emphasize respect enough. For your fellow human, for the topic...for everything. Being a dick will get you noticed, but genuine respect will get you much further.

Also - if I DO change my mind on a topic, I don't want my face rubbed in it, because you think I'm flip-flopping on the issue. It's difficult enough to alter my mindset, but to be mocked about it is embarrassing, infuriating, and unnecessary.

As a lengthy aside - I firmly believe in progress. Progress advances us and our world, but progress requires adaptation. One of the greatest jokes "society" ever played on humanity is that one must conform - rather than adapt - to be accepted. So the human mind is burdened with a wall of conformity that prevents progress, if we wish to "belong." Remaining steadfast in the face of adversity and providing a united front has always been seen as a strong suit, and, for a large part, it rings true. Early on we discovered that sticking together upped our odds for survival considerably. There were those that stuck out, though. The innovators, the inventors, the artists...

What's the one thing unique to the majority of the thinkers, the geniuses,  the writers, the inventors,  that have led to the advancement of civilization? They thought differently. SO differently, they were branded rebels. Outcasts. Freaks. Weirdos. Why? Why do we shun those that make us stronger? It's stupid! Why not instead be a rebel civilization, a community lauded for our ability to work together to propel humanity forward to great heights, rather than be mired in religiosociopolitical stigma? Or is it that persecution that empowers the greats to become great? I don't know, honestly. Perhaps a little of columns A, B, and C. But I do know that that hostility did not influence them to think like everyone else. They were not swayed by the popular opinion. They thought for themselves, pushed parameters, redefined or in some cases obliterated boundaries. But they did it because they could change, adapt, and, in the end, progress.

So, Respectful Communication begets Progressive Rebel Society.

If you have any suggestions for points I might add, feel free to let me know in the comments. :-)

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