Over at Twitchy, I did something today which I do regularly about once a month: wade into a comment section of a blog and argue my point. I consider it blogger weight-lifting.
Now, I have occasional been accused of “enjoying being contrary” or “enjoying argument.” As for the latter, I plead guilty and I dispute the notion that ‘argument’ by itself is something bad. The things which sometimes go along with argument, however–the logical fallacies which many persons use, the imputation of bad faith, etc.–are the problem. But, argument alone–when the arguers exercise personal restraint–is beneficial to the thinking of the participants. We get to see the perspective of others and, through this, get to question our own assumptions. In other words, we are forced to keep from navel-gazing and, if we try to hold to the “rules of engagement”–to keep truth as primary goal–we can be persuaded to a point of view, if the other participant demonstrates that his/her own points are the truth as opposed to our own assertions. And this includes truths we don’t like.
Of course, that method of argument is not used the majority of the time. Often, we are too wrapped up in ourselves: we internalize our opinion as a representation of our very being. And when another challenges that opinion, we feel it as a challenge to our soul–our intellect. It is perceived as an attack and, when this happens, the response is predictable.
I once had a commenter prove me wrong—yeah, it happens :)– and when he did, he taunted me: “See you were wrong? Now don’t you feel embarrassed?”
“No,” I said. “I’m a human being, not God. Human beings are wrong all the time and I am no different. I appreciate the fact that you corrected me.”
Now that is not a response I might have put forth, say, ten years ago. It’s one born of two things: humility, courtesy of Jesus the Christ, and ten years of learning how to argue a point while keep the logical fallacies in mind.
In short, I’ve been learning how to make Truth higher than myself. Trust me; I still have a long way to go.
BTW, humility almost always involves the pain of humiliation. To paraphrase, without pain, there is no gain.
Merry Christmas to all and enjoy the Holiday season.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel,Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012. Her new novel, Arlen’s Harem, is due in January 2014. Help her fund it and help keep her blog alive!