Lets agree to disagree but with due respect to each other!

Lets agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other!

In the times we are living in, discussions and arguments have mostly gone online. The debates which once were a part of the drawing-room culture have become an integral part of the electronic, print and social media. The options for people to comment online on news, blogs, posts and write-ups etc, have opened up new opportunities for the readers. There were times when after reading something of importance or interest in the newspaper or a magazine, I would discuss it with the people around me. We would talk about the issue, argue, agree or disagree, but never in a manner where the other person would feel that his opinion has been brushed aside, or he is being demeaned for his views. Maybe being polite in a face to face discussions was not only an important requirement of a debate it was considered an essential part of good upbringing, and no one wanted to seem rude or disrespectful to each other.

But the huge swing of technology and the easy access to it, has changed people’s attitudes and also the way they discuss issues these days! As a regular visitor to the blogs of reputable publications, I have noticed how ugly a discussion can become. It may be about politics, religion, a social issue or even a game! Most people with differing opinions mock, insult and in extreme cases verbally abuse those who have a different way of seeing things. This I-will-punch-you–in-the-face-if-you-dare-to- disagree-with-me approach is on the rise by the day.

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People make an argument an ego matter, and win they must, either by hook or by crook! Instead of making it a means to a better understanding of a controversial issue, and trying to see things from the other one’s point of view, they prefer to belittle or mock those who do not agree with their way of perceiving an issue. The use of profane words is on the rise and some people really think it is “cool” to use these words in their comments. The words which once no gentleman even dreamt of using in public, have become so common that even our children are using them! While reading comments I often come across words like absurd, shit, nonsense, unintelligent, ridiculous, repressive, trash (just to mention the softer ones) etc. Some call the other’s views silly, illogical and appalling! All barriers of civility are broken and we seem to forget that there are always two faces of a coin.  

It is perfectly okay to disagree, because it is our basic right to have our own opinion on different matters. But the point we often overlook is that each and every individual has a different view, which depends on his/her social and cultural background, religious beliefs and the moral values which run in a family! And education, though last mentioned, should be the on the top of this list.

Why is this new approach getting so common? What are we teaching our young generation? Have we becoming more egoistic by the day and feel it is our right to thrust down our opinion down our opponents’ throat, least caring that we may even choke them with our efforts? Why is our society becoming so brutally intolerant, with a total disregard for a difference in opinion? Where will this frame of mind lead us too? Why are all barriers of civility broken when we do not see eye to eye with someone?

lets agree

All these are disturbing questions that I ask myself! There is already too much hatred and dissent in our world. Instead of being judgmental, raising accusing fingers and resorting to mudslinging, let’s try to create a more tolerant world through discussions and trying to understand differing views. Or else, we should be prepared to hand down a legacy of hatred and contempt to our younger generation.

In Pakistan, the illiterate have no access to newspapers, magazines or the social media. The less affluent, even if they have a formal education, are too busy trying to make the ends meet to spare time reading and commenting on posts and write ups.  So only the educated middle and upper class are among those who take interest and can take out time to participate in these virtual discussions. Education brings with it tolerance; a respect for the views of someone who sees things from another angle or perspective. And keeping in mind the class who has an access to the social and print media, I think it should try to be more open-minded and flexible. Instead of making our comments sound like a slap on the face, we can make them polite and respectful. Mocking, insulting or ridiculing someone who does not see eye to eye with us, only proves that we are educated illiterates!

Let’s agree to disagree, but with due respect to each other’s opinion. Proving yourself right and the opponent wrong should not be important, a debate should be a means to hone the mind and bring a broader perspective to one’s outlook on controversial issues!

Communication issues: Rules for a healthy argument

      (This article was published in the Young World, Dawn Inpage Magazine for children, but somehow I feel that grownups like me need this lesson more than children do. Making an argument an ego matter, we are often rude and try to belittle people who do not agree with us!)

          According to George Bernard Shaw “The moment we want to believe something, we suddenly see all the arguments for it, and become blind to the arguments against it”.

Arshad and Hammad are not on speaking terms for the last two weeks. Reason? They had entered into an argument on which player in the Pakistani Cricket team was responsible for the defeat in the semi- final of ICC World Cup. Each one was defending his favourite player and slinging allegations on the other’s favourite. Although they were close friends, the argument finally became an ego matter and resulted in a quarrel.

An argument can be defined as a difference of opinion among two persons (or groups), when each one tries his best to prove that his views are right and those of his opponent’s are wrong. Too often we see a healthy argument change into a heated debate, or worse still into an ugly fight. We can get into an argument on petty issues with friends, siblings, parents and sometimes even with complete strangers.

Although we do not like to lose once we have entered into an argument, we should realize and understand that every individual has a different opinion depending upon his/her age, education, social and moral values and family and religious background.  The ultimate goal of an argument should never be a contest to see who is the winner , it should be a means to let other see your point of view and trying to make them agree with you (or convince you if you are wrong). To make an argument a means for improved knowledge and a door to better communication there are some rules which should be followed strictly.

Questions like ‘Why?’ ‘How’ and ‘When’ not only make an argument informative, they may also correct some myths and wrong believes of your opponent. But before making any statement, be dead sure that you know your facts properly. Making a claim that is false would make your case weak and you will end up losing even though most of your views were correct.

Talk politely but firmly. To convince others during an argument and make them share your view, stress your points with full conviction. You should show that you are confident about what you are talking about. Keep your mind and voice under control and talk with dignity. Raising your voice over your opponents, insulting him, becoming aggressive and/or flying into a rage, only proves that you have a weak stand and are running out of rationale facts. A calm attitude and a normal voice level will go a far way to strengthen your argument.

          While discussing controversial issues it is better to let your opponent speak first. Listen carefully and let him state his views clearly. Never interrupt him before he is finished. In this way you will have a better understanding of the other person’s views and why his opinion differs from yours. When your turn comes to speak, you will be able to express yourself in a more convincing manner and have a better chance to get your point through.

          Never under estimate your opponent. Don’t think he/she is silly, obstinate or not as intelligent (or educated) as you are. Many arguments are won by showing respect to the views of the person with whom you have a difference of opinion. Never make it into an ego matter. The ultimate aim of an argument should never be belittling the person you have a difference of opinion with; it should always be a step towards better perception of a controversial issue. You must realize that it is not necessary that you are always the one who is right, so keep your mind open during an argument.

          Never, I repeat NEVER argue just for the sake of an argument. Some people just love to disagree with the people around them. They have the unpleasant habit of entering into arguments on every topic and with everyone they come across. They will differ with you in all matters and trap you into joining them in the controversy. But beware of these people! Don’t accept every invitation to enter into a discussion. First, search your mind to find out if you have any idea about the topic of disagreement; whether you can talk about it or not. At times it is better to keep quiet and listen, instead of uttering something foolish which you will regret later. An anonymous saying says, “People who know the least always argue the most”. Avoid being one of those people.

          The ultimate goal of an argument should never be a proof of who is cleverer or has better knowledge. It should not be considered as a contest in which winning is very important. Realizing the fact that each one of us has a right to his/her own opinion, we should let it be a means of communicating which each other and sharing our views and thoughts. Always remember that people are more important than views. You may lose a good friend by being obstinate or unrealistic.  After an argument, even if you have won it, you may be the real loser if in the end you find that you have lost a close friend!