Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Arguing with the Other Side

 

“He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.” — Edmund Burke

We can look at Burke’s statement through the lens of our own lives. I’ve met all kinds of people who either hide from those who disagree with them, or look for people to fight with. In many ways, both attitudes can be unhelpful because their underlying goals are not productive.

A person who hides from disagreement is never in a position to analyze his own beliefs and values. He’s created a cave in which to hide, afraid that someone in the world may make him feel uncomfortable or damage his belief system. Some people are just averse to conflict, period. They value peace and calmness above all else. The biggest problem for these folks is that they never check out their assumptions because they are either too insecure or too self-absorbed to engage with people who disagree with them.

Then there are those who always seem to be looking for a fight. They seem to value the battle more than the exchange of ideas; overpowering the other people, verbally beating them into submission is their primary goal. Although most of us like winning, being victorious for its own sake is an empty prize. In the process we have likely damaged our relationships, lost our credibility, and learned absolutely nothing.

The key, which is often true, is finding a balance of both: withdrawing from certain disagreements some of the time, and engaging with others with sincerity and respect. Easy, right?

No, in fact it’s very difficult. Our upbringing, life experiences and willingness or not to be engaged and transparent are challenges to leading productive lives. But if our goals are to master our reticence and our aggressiveness, we will live our lives in ways that provide learning, enjoyment and growth.

This is the way engagement is supposed to work on a personal level. But looking at politics for the last 50 years of this country’s history, how has this approach worked for us?

Published in Group Writing
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 35 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Arahant Member

    Fifty years? I could go back a few thousand years. The problem is one side can’t be honest about what they want.


    This is the Quote of the Day. We still have fifteen openings in July if you have a quote you would like to share. Go sign up to reserve your date.

    • #1
    • July 9, 2020, at 6:53 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    That is a fundamental issue, @arahant. But when you add in that you want to be “nice” to the other side rather than fighting for what you want when it counts, it’s pretty debilitating.

    • #2
    • July 9, 2020, at 6:57 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Richard Fulmer Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    The problem is one side can’t be honest about what they want.

    Sometimes no side is completely honest about what they want. This reminds me of the “bootleggers and Baptists” coalition that sprang up to support Prohibition. The bootleggers wanted Prohibition because they could profit by smuggling booze into the country while Baptists and other religious groups wanted to eliminate alcohol abuse. 

    Economists now use the “bootleggers and Baptists” term to describe similar odd alliances between groups with evil intentions and groups with good intentions. For example, unions, eugenicists, and social welfare advocates all supported the country’s first minimum wage laws. Unions wanted them because they priced out low-paid competition, eugenicists liked them because they denied jobs to the “unfit,” and social welfare advocates liked them because they believed that they would help the poor.

    • #3
    • July 9, 2020, at 7:15 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    The problem is one side can’t be honest about what they want.

    Sometimes no side is completely honest about what they want. This reminds me of the “bootleggers and Baptists” coalition that sprang up to support Prohibition. The bootleggers wanted Prohibition because they could profit by smuggling booze into the country while Baptists and other religious groups wanted to eliminate alcohol abuse.

    Economists now use the “bootleggers and Baptists” term to describe similar odd alliances between groups with evil intentions and groups with good intentions. For example, unions, eugenicists, and social welfare advocates all supported the country’s first minimum wage laws. Unions wanted them because they priced out low-paid competition, eugenicists liked them because they denied jobs to the “unfit,” and social welfare advocates liked them because they believed that they would help the poor.

    That’s fascinating, @richardfulmer! I’d never heard the term. But it certainly seems to be a social or human norm–everyone has his or her own agenda. Another phrase that comes to mind is “two sides of the same coin,” which can refer simply to two dimensions or to good and evil. 

    • #4
    • July 9, 2020, at 7:32 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Arvo Coolidge

    How often do we actually engage in person to person discussion with people of different worldviews?

    Watching them on TV doesn’t count.

    • #5
    • July 9, 2020, at 7:42 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. Henry Castaigne Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Fifty years? I could go back a few thousand years. The problem is one side can’t be honest about what they want.


    This is the Quote of the Day. We still have fifteen openings in July if you have a quote you would like to share. Go sign up to reserve your date.

    So are you like one of those guys who can remember some of his reincarnations?

     

    • #6
    • July 9, 2020, at 7:52 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  7. Stina Member

    Arvo (View Comment):

    How often do we actually engage in person to person discussion with people of different worldviews?

    Watching them on TV doesn’t count.

    I used to do it more often, but it felt like I was arguing with the wind. So I pretty much stopped.

    My real life world has become a kind of sanctuary lately. Maybe it’s because I’m raising my kids and there’s a sheltering aspect until I’ve shored up their convictions.

    I pretty much shut down as my oldest entered school, because my retreat from argument and discussion was not normal to me at the time.

    Now, I get it online. I hope this is just a seasonal thing for me and I find my sea legs again as my kids age out.

    • #7
    • July 9, 2020, at 7:53 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    Arvo (View Comment):
    Watching them on TV doesn’t count.

    How about if we yell at the TV instead of just watching?

    • #8
    • July 9, 2020, at 8:01 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Arahant Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    So are you like one of those guys who can remember some of his reincarnations?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-wrWr5pI0M

    (Note: There is a reason I did not format this so that it would resolve.)

    • #9
    • July 9, 2020, at 8:04 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Arvo Coolidge

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):
    Watching them on TV doesn’t count.

    How about if we yell at the TV instead of just watching?

    The stuff we see on TV is the WWE version of meaningful dialogue.

    Reenacting them like a couple of twelve year olds doesn’t count either.

    Every once in a while one of those players let us behind the scenes, sharing green room small talk. That’s the real thing.

    • #10
    • July 9, 2020, at 8:07 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arvo (View Comment):

    How often do we actually engage in person to person discussion with people of different worldviews?

    Watching them on TV doesn’t count.

    In my experience, face-to-face conversations between Left and Right rarely touch on politics.

    That’s partly because their connection is not born of politics and they want to enjoy each other’s company as friends or family. Alternatively, they work together and don’t want to risk perpetual misery by starting a quarrel. 

    And it’s partly because at least one side — usually Left — is unable or unwilling to appreciate the other despite political / cultural disagreements. In the worst scenarios, sadly not uncommon, one side fears punishment or an end to the relationship for daring to discuss serious matters. 

    We tolerated uncivil behavior for too long. If discipline and charity in conversation are not demanded by culture, with violations sharply rebuked, they are quickly abandoned in the ever-present temptation to abandon oneself to passions and the simple way of tribalism. Today, even most public figures on TV exhibit no duty to treat opponents with respect and consideration. In any society, public / formal behavior is held to higher standards than private / informal behavior. So we have fallen far indeed. 

    • #11
    • July 9, 2020, at 8:08 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    In 1926, Charlie Birger and the Shelton Brothers put aside their significant differences over who should be in charge of bootlegging in Southern Illinois to go to war with the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was organizing in the area under the banner of more strict enforcement of Prohibition and had made inroads into elected government. This involved the entirely unconstitutional searching of private residences for evidence of alcohol. The gangs were not pleased.

    After the Klan had been dispersed, the two gangs continued their dispute, which involved the only air raid ever to be launched from and take place in the state of Illinois. So far.

    • #12
    • July 9, 2020, at 8:12 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  13. Arahant Member

    Arvo (View Comment):
    The stuff we see on TV is the WWE version of meaningful dialogue.

    The stuff you see. Never watch TV myself.

    • #13
    • July 9, 2020, at 8:18 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Arvo (View Comment):

    The stuff we see on TV is the WWE version of meaningful dialogue.

    Reenacting them like a couple of twelve year olds doesn’t count either.

    Every once in a while one of those players let us behind the scenes, sharing green room small talk. That’s the real thing.

    I love this @arvo. I think the WWE version is especially apt!

    • #14
    • July 9, 2020, at 8:20 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    We tolerated uncivil behavior for too long. If discipline and charity in conversation are not demanded by culture, with violations sharply rebuked, they are quickly abandoned in the ever-present temptation to abandon oneself to passions and the simple way of tribalism. Today, even most public figures on TV exhibit no duty to treat opponents with respect and consideration. In any society, public / formal behavior is held to higher standards than private / informal behavior. So we have fallen far indeed. 

    So very true, @aaronmiller. Civil conversation has been abandoned for abuse and destroy.

    • #15
    • July 9, 2020, at 8:22 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Arvo Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):

    The stuff we see on TV is the WWE version of meaningful dialogue.

    Reenacting them like a couple of twelve year olds doesn’t count either.

    Every once in a while one of those players let us behind the scenes, sharing green room small talk. That’s the real thing.

    I love this @arvo. I think the WWE version is especially apt!

    A lot of that in political theater, too.

    • #16
    • July 9, 2020, at 8:23 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Richard Fulmer Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    In 1926, Charlie Birger and the Shelton Brothers put aside their significant differences over who should be in charge of bootlegging in Southern Illinois to go to war with the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan was organizing in the area under the banner of more strict enforcement of Prohibition and had made inroads into elected government. This involved the entirely unconstitutional searching of private residences for evidence of alcohol. The gangs were not pleased.

    After the Klan had been dispersed, the two gangs continued their dispute, which involved the only air raid ever to be launched from and take place in the state of Illinois. So far.

    Moral of the story: Do not mess with free enterprise.

    • #17
    • July 9, 2020, at 8:46 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  18. Arvo Coolidge

    Percival (View Comment):
    The Klan was organizing in the area under the banner of more strict enforcement of Prohibition and had made inroads into elected government.

    Which party were they getting into elected government under?

    • #18
    • July 9, 2020, at 9:10 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arvo (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    The Klan was organizing in the area under the banner of more strict enforcement of Prohibition and had made inroads into elected government.

    Which party were they getting into elected government under?

    Back then, it was probably a matter of “which type of Democrat are you?”

    • #19
    • July 9, 2020, at 9:15 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  20. Arvo Coolidge

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    The Klan was organizing in the area under the banner of more strict enforcement of Prohibition and had made inroads into elected government.

    Which party were they getting into elected government under?

    Back then, it was probably a matter of “which type of Democrat are you?”

    Over in Indiana they dominated Republican politics around this time.

    • #20
    • July 9, 2020, at 9:29 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Kephalithos Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):

    How often do we actually engage in person to person discussion with people of different worldviews?

    Watching them on TV doesn’t count.

    In my experience, face-to-face conversations between Left and Right rarely touch on politics.

    More often than not, “Let’s not talk about politics” really means, “Only I get to talk about politics.”

    • #21
    • July 9, 2020, at 10:07 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Rodin Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    The Klan was organizing in the area under the banner of more strict enforcement of Prohibition and had made inroads into elected government.

    Which party were they getting into elected government under?

    Back then, it was probably a matter of “which type of Democrat are you?”

    Forgive hijacking the thread, but I found these comments fascinating. If you read the Wikipedia entry for Hiram Wesley Evans you are introduced to a complexity about the KKK that is not in evidence today. I couldn’t find any reference to a specific Republican candidate who was a member of the KKK, but there were references to support for Republicans when Democrats were opposing an aspect of the current KKK political agenda. The KKK during the period of Evans’ leadership resembled a political party like we see today — marking out certain platform positions but making strategic moves for power without regard to those positions.

    • #22
    • July 9, 2020, at 10:07 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Henry Castaigne Member

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    The Klan was organizing in the area under the banner of more strict enforcement of Prohibition and had made inroads into elected government.

    Which party were they getting into elected government under?

    Back then, it was probably a matter of “which type of Democrat are you?”

    Forgive hijacking the thread, but I found these comments fascinating. If you read the Wikipedia entry for Hiram Wesley Evans you are introduced to a complexity about the KKK that is not in evidence today. I couldn’t find any reference to a specific Republican candidate who was a member of the KKK, but there were references to support for Republicans when Democrats were opposing an aspect of the current KKK political agenda. The KKK during the period of Evans’ leadership resembled a political party like we see today — marking out certain platform positions but making strategic moves for power without regard to those positions.

    They were an incredibly large political organization. I’m sure there were different factions. 

    • #23
    • July 9, 2020, at 10:12 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Kephalithos (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):

    How often do we actually engage in person to person discussion with people of different worldviews?

    Watching them on TV doesn’t count.

    In my experience, face-to-face conversations between Left and Right rarely touch on politics.

    More often than not, “Let’s not talk about politics” really means, “Only I get to talk about politics.”

    Not on my watch! If that’s the person’s attitude, we’re not going to talk about politics at all. Clearly that would not be the kind of person I’d want to talk with.

    • #24
    • July 9, 2020, at 10:24 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  25. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arvo (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    The Klan was organizing in the area under the banner of more strict enforcement of Prohibition and had made inroads into elected government.

    Which party were they getting into elected government under?

    Back then, it was probably a matter of “which type of Democrat are you?”

    Over in Indiana they dominated Republican politics around this time.

    It could have been the Republicans. Being pro-UMW would be a significant power base, and I don’t think the Republicans had much claim to that, even back then.

    • #25
    • July 9, 2020, at 10:55 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Can we get back to the air raid? It turns out that dropping a lit bundle of dynamite from an open-cockpit biplane isn’t as accurate or as effective as one might think.

    Sorry. That is what introduced me to the gang war in Southern Illinois. Some book or other with a biplane on the cover caught my eye in high school, and the next thing I knew I was reading about Charlie Birger, the foremost Jewish cavalryman/cowboy/gangster in US history.

    So far.

    • #26
    • July 9, 2020, at 11:09 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  27. Arvo Coolidge

    Percival (View Comment):
    Can we get back to the air raid? It turns out that dropping a lit bundle of dynamite from an open-cockpit biplane isn’t as accurate or as effective as one might think.

    We’ve gotten a lot better at it.

    • #27
    • July 9, 2020, at 11:20 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  28. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arvo (View Comment):

    How often do we actually engage in person to person discussion with people of different worldviews?

    Watching them on TV doesn’t count.

    I have a mens group which includes a hard core progressive (meaning he is rock solid in his progressive views, and can defend them), a hard core Libertarian, a hard core Conservative (that’s me), some regular old Republican types (meaning they are pretty Republican, but no political junkies), a guy who’s kind of in the middle, and a couple of very cerebral Christian apologists.

    We have some pretty deep discussions, often disagreements, and it’s good.

    • #28
    • July 9, 2020, at 1:58 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  29. Arvo Coolidge

    Spin (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):

    How often do we actually engage in person to person discussion with people of different worldviews?

    Watching them on TV doesn’t count.

    I have a mens group which includes a hard core progressive (meaning he is rock solid in his progressive views, and can defend them), a hard core Libertarian, a hard core Conservative (that’s me), some regular old Republican types (meaning they are pretty Republican, but no political junkies), a guy who’s kind of in the middle, and a couple of very cerebral Christian apologists.

    We have some pretty deep discussions, often disagreements, and it’s good.

    That’s awesome.

    You never really know how well your ideas stand up until you put them in front of people you respect who disagree.

    • #29
    • July 9, 2020, at 2:01 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Arvo (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Arvo (View Comment):

    How often do we actually engage in person to person discussion with people of different worldviews?

    Watching them on TV doesn’t count.

    I have a mens group which includes a hard core progressive (meaning he is rock solid in his progressive views, and can defend them), a hard core Libertarian, a hard core Conservative (that’s me), some regular old Republican types (meaning they are pretty Republican, but no political junkies), a guy who’s kind of in the middle, and a couple of very cerebral Christian apologists.

    We have some pretty deep discussions, often disagreements, and it’s good.

    That’s awesome.

    You never really know how well your ideas stand up until you put them in front of people you respect who disagree.

    Is it awesome? What does Scripture say about this?

    Obviously, those who do not believe won’t care. But I think that both of you guys (Arvo and Spin) consider yourselves to be followers of Jesus, as do I. I may not do it very well, and I may be wrong about some things.

    There are some pretty tough Scriptures on this point. Matthew 24 (esp. verse 24); 2 Corinthians 6:14-17; 2 John 1:7-11.

    This is actually relevant to the Bible study that I’m going to be teaching this weekend, about the end of the Book of Ezra, Chapters 10 and 11. It’s after the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple, after the Babylonian exile. The problem is that many of the Israelites had married foreign wives, and even had children with them. The resolution was that they were required to separate from their foreign wives, and send them away with the children. It’s really harsh.

    I’m still thinking through how I am going to present this lesson. Although “thinking through” isn’t exactly right. I’m awaiting something from the Spirit about the approach that I should take. I try not to force such things, and I’m never sure whether I succeed. It is possible that the twist in this post is the way that the Spirit is going to tell me what to do.

    I’d appreciate your thoughts, because I remain uncertain about what to do.

    I think that this relates to the OP, because it presents the difficult question of how to live among people with whom you have some fundamental disagreements.

    • #30
    • July 9, 2020, at 2:36 PM PDT
    • 3 likes