It would be a very boring society if we all agreed with everyone about everything. It would also mean that we were living in a blissfully ignorant bubble, closed off from reality. The knowledge we possess, the beliefs we practise, the opinions we form and the conclusions we arrive at are based on several factors.
Whether you meet someone in a social setting, an unplanned encounter, on a blog or a social media site, you can find yourself facing a person with a worldview—in whole or in part—that differs from your own. Sometimes, these differences result in two people or groups wanting to assert their authority forcefully or reject any point of view that does not coincide with their own, as inferior or wrong.
What should be a discussion turns into an argument that ends up with short tempers and abuse. The quick route to brushing off the opponent’s opinion is to descend into derogatory land and use the usual swear words. Case dismissed.
It should be the mark of a good debate: courtesy towards your opponents. Ask and answer questions with respect for the other side. Listen and let the other contestants have their say. You can disagree with some or all points, but still maintain a civility at the end of it.
A debate where both sides disagree agreeably does not make for sensationalism, and it may not get the hits that sites hope for. But for an intelligent audience, a calm, rational debate makes one listen carefully and think and reflect about what has been discussed. It turns into an informative exchange of different perspectives, and onlookers can arrive at their own conclusions.
This week, I came across a pre-recorded, two-part discussion on Christianity. It was excellent viewing. Candace Owens, the moderator, introduced the topic and explained her role. She chose not to take an active part in the exchange as she did not want to end up aligning with one person or the other. The two people involved in the discussion panel were Allie Beth Stuckey taking the stand for Protestantism, while George Farmer presented the case for Catholicism.
Here we have two intelligent participants, with different personalities, both passionate about their side of the argument. Both knew enough about the topic and could quote relevant sources, when needed. When a debate revolves around listening to the question with respect and then answering it thoughtfully to the best of one’s ability, it becomes an avenue of information and education to most viewers, whichever side they may be on.
In this case, whether Protestant, Catholic, some other faith or atheist.