Proceed w Caution If You Must_The Argument


Every argument need not be started. Every argument started need not be won and every argument won need not be as if it were won. Every argument is an opportunity to adjust, rebuild or destroy and thus should be approached with these possibilities in mind for it is a sword that can cut many ways. Arguments can define boundaries and note where the lines that should not be crossed are drawn or arguments can slowly erode the foundation causing the relationship to eventually come crashing down.

Arguments bubble up from conflict [conflict is a function of the confluence of opposing ideas, values, beliefs or agendas] and like most things in the human drama, arguments can take on different colors – from the near benign to the violent to the deceptively pernicious.

In an argument, both can win and adjust or rebuild. Or, one can lose and the other win – beware the possible danger for the victor – especially a pyrrhic victory [a victory won at such a high cost that winning really was not worth it]. Lastly, both can lose. If so, then danger is more than possible — it is almost certain. I do suppose, however, there is a fourth possible outcome and that is a stalemate. A few stalemates here and there are probably innocuous but too many can be deleterious because they can amount to an eventual loss on both sides.

Compromise is a term often heard when discussing arguments. It is characterized by neither party getting all [but enough] of what she/he wants. Otherwise, in lieu of compromise, one is left with the decision to dig in one’s heels and stand in firm opposition or simply acquiesce – give in completely and getting none of what you want. But what if even compromising amounts to losing a bit of oneself or undermining one’s fundamental notion of self because the issue at hand is deemed extremely important?

Also, beware of shadow boxing. To shadow box is to argue about one thing when it is actually something else that is the cause for consternation. It is a waste of precious energy and is never productive. But it takes a diligent and honest effort to determine the real issue at hand. In short, is falling off a 100-story building the problem or is it the sudden stop at the bottom that should be the issue?

In any event, most arguments are usually relatively minor in scope and impact but some are malevolent and can spring from the most innocent beginnings. So beware the argument because even the strongest relationships are not safe for even a single argument [depending on the context] can decimate a life-long relationship. Above all, be honorable and fair in victory if victory should occur. For every little victory, unfairly won, can bring with it a small hidden defeat for the victor. When enough such victories have occurred, those defeats can boomerang into one total and over-powering loss to the victor. The victor becomes the loser because the seeds of defeat were planted in each unfair victory.

That begs the question, however: What is fair? Fairness is fluid and amorphous. It all depends on the players and their state of emotions. In other words, fairness is a moving target — a target that tries its best not to be hit. It is like a favorite food; it depends on who is doing the eating.

Lastly, there is the human who chooses not to argue because she has deemed it fruitless and so she quietly yields. The other party incorrectly translates that as successfully reaching an accord that both parties can live with. It could be, however, that she has simply refused to invest any energy in disagreements. She does not want to argue because the other party would bring more heat to the situation than necessary or because she no longer cares enough. Either way, in this instance, not arguing can be as baleful to the relationship as an ugly argument.

No wonder: Beware the argument. If you choose to engage, due so with caution. Count the cost, if you can. For an argument can be like the wind – a gentle breeze or a raging hurricane.

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Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 3:20 PM  Comments (1)  
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The Unfair Fight: Truth v Opinion


Truth and opinion are constantly battling each other for acceptance and the battle is often fought within the context of a zero-sum game. Former New York Senator Moynihan once quipped that we can all have our own opinions, but we can’t all have our own facts. The problem is most humans confuse the one for the other. In fact it is that phenomenon that is the source of much of human misery. Voltaire, the French philosopher once stated, “Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes” (Brainy Quote).

Truth moves in tandem with fact, but opinion is the one that often masquerades as either. Truth and fact can be elusive, even evasive. Thus, the valid is often difficult to identify or acknowledge and so when presented with an issue, one must sort out, collate and present as is – in all its naked glory – what is fact or truth and what is opinion. Humans often find this task to be daunting and demanding.

As a matter of course, humans prefer opinion over fact or truth because opinion often does not tax the mind but rather sedates it. Fact and truth are exacting taskmasters whereas opinion often requires mindless compliance, which is the course of least resistance. Once opinion is introduced into the equation, the answers are often the same: Wrong! This is starkly evident in science, religion, politics and all the other realms of the human experience. Opinion has the advantage over truth because humans, as a matter of course, have demonstrated a proclivity for choosing the shiny rock rather than the diamond in the rough.

Truth and fact are worthy of relentless pursuit, and sometimes they may even take on a fugitive-like stature, but opinion should be slaughtered at every turn – except where it is openly acknowledged that opinion and not fact or truth is at play. When the man called Jesus spoke of truth to Pontius Pilate, Pilate quipped, “What is truth?” He was never given an answer. The philosopher, Diogenes is said to have walked the streets in broad daylight while holding a lantern. When asked why, he is reported to have said he was searching for an honest man. May we all do likewise – searching for facts or truth, and along the way, give no more power to opinion than what it deserves so as to ensure that the fight between the two is fair.

Published in: on December 1, 2015 at 4:17 AM  Comments (1)  
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