Communication cannot be had without first making a conscious effort to humanize your opponent, instead of objectifying them as a target to defeat.
I'm a writer, a political activist, and a theology junkie– it's a wonder I have any friends left. But in all seriousness, this last election season cost me many friendships, all of which I hope to see mended. But I will never blame politics for division among friends. Like firearms, politics are inanimate and thus cannot be held responsible for anything. Firearms don't murder people, people with evil hearts murder people. Politics don't divide, people divide when they fail to communicate effectively.
Barbaric Twitter battles and arguments on Facebook have exposed society's inability, or rather unwillingness, to get along. Every time a sensitive issue makes headlines, the battles begin. Sleepers become activists, rebels become historians, and people who have never studied politics in their life suddenly have a self-conferred honorary PhD in constitutional law. But the reality is that the bulk of these arguments is hardly about the issues themselves. They start on topic but swiftly become a competition of who can deliver the most fallacies in a single sentence. People are forced to defend what they actually said because their opponent twisted their context. Name-calling ensues.
All of this happens because people are more concerned about being "right" than they are about seeking truth. It's sad that there is even a difference between the two.
Effective communication is imperative to our social infrastructure. Consider the following before engaging in your next controversial argument:
1) Seek understanding, not victory.
Making a humble effort to understand why your opponent holds their position will create a platform of mutual respect and transparency. The intent of dueling knights is to kill each other. The more viciously one fights the more viciously the other will retaliate, and so the cycle continues ultimately leaving one as the victor. This should not be our goal in communication, and yet we see this mentality often. Our desire should never be to see anyone lose, but rather to see everyone win. What I mean is that our goal should be that everyone leave the conversation better equipped to make a conclusion. This cannot properly be done without a craving for the entire picture, not one side, all of the facts, not just those who support us.
Communication cannot be done without first making a conscious effort to humanize your opponent instead of objectifying them as a target to defeat. The more respect is present, the lesser chance of hostility.
2) Don't allow narratives to dictate truth.
Too often we allow trending narratives to dictate truth instead of allowing truth to formulate our narratives. Every time a black man is shot by a white officer there are two typical responses: The left comes out crying "racism and police brutality" when some right extremists come out crying "he probably deserved it!" These responses come premature to the investigation even beginning, which is foolish. There's a third response that unfortunately seems to be the minority, and that response is "hey, all we have is a subjective video that hardly supplies sufficient evidence. It could have been racism, it could have been justified. But since we don't know we probably shouldn't say. That's called being an adult." Be the third response, especially when dealing with sensitive issues such as racism and justice. If you're not willing to wait for the facts, then you don't have a genuine concern for either racial issues or police support because your hasty cries show that you're more concerned about propaganda than reconciliation.
Truth is not relative, it is absolute. Truth is not what we want it to be, but we should want to know truth.
3) Stop feeling entitled to your opinion.
Entitled is the opposite of earned, and thus an attitude of entitlement is often lazy. We see this often in people who, when challenged on their argument, quickly invoke the "I'm entitled to my opinion" cop-out. Entitlement is selfish and it develops an unhealthy sense of privilege- privilege to say whatever we want regardless of the ramifications. If you ever ask someone where it's written that we're entitled to our opinion they won't have answer....because it isn't (not that they'd know since people in this category typically don't do research.) Instead of simply having an opinion, have a conviction founded in research and that can maturely contribute to a conversation.
Please, when you say "I'm entitled to my opinion" you're not impressing anyone. However, you are ushering yourself out of the category that those in your conversation deem credible.
People will often ask me how they can advance their writing. That's an easy answer: read. We write to inform and to express. But if we have no information, we can't inform. If we have no creativity, then we're limited in our expression. Read much and read material that may not always align with your convictions. That way you'll learn better how to approach opposition and you may even learn that you're on the wrong side of the issue. In the same way, listen.
Listen well and listen with the intent to learn, not simply to respond. Listening to respond is why we have people twisting their opponents words in order to better fit their argument, which is really evidence that their argument doesn't hold water since they have to manipulate the truth.
5) Know when to hold 'em.
It's okay to give yourself some credit. If you're right, you're right and you shouldn't back down or try to "find middle-ground" at the sacrifice of truth. Stand your ground and be confident in your premises. The desire for cordial discourse should never come at the cost of truth.
6) Know when to fold 'em.
Be willing to admit you're wrong. Only a fool continues to lose once they know they've lost. Not to mention when we know we're wrong and we continue claiming it as truth, that is a form of dishonesty. Be optimistic here. It takes truth to expose wrong. Thus if you're proven wrong, you now know the truth. Good for you.
7) Know when to walk away.
Sometimes it isn't worth your time. Sometimes you just have to let the conversation go because while you're using validity in your arguments, your opponent doesn't care to. They're interested in a fight, not a pursuit of truth.
"Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." -Mark Twain
I've been subjected to this behavior many times. Your opponent will say something so absurd that you just HAVE to let 'em have it with everything you have in your arsenal of logical syntax. But the thing is, they're not concerned about truth. They're a fool. You can say 2+2 is 4 and they'll claim otherwise. They'll continue this cycle 'till they're blue in the face, because that's what they do- and they're good at it.
In conclusion I'll leave you with this quote:
"The purpose of an open mind, similar to the mouth, is to close it again on something solid." -G.K. Chesteron
For the gospel //
Hi, my name is John and I love coffee. As I write this I’m sitting in a local roastery sipping a “mudslide” espresso with cream and two and a half sugars. There are few things in life that I feel merit precise orchestration with no room for error, coffee is one of them.
My life belongs to Jesus. I am his son and He is my King. His work in my life is reason enough for my faith to be made complete. He lived to die for me so that I may be credited righteous thus I will live for Him. I believe one area that has been greatly ignored by Christians is culture and politics. We must be active in representing our faith in these communities, but not in a relativistic or compromising way. Full Bio