Argument Vs. Attack

For some time now I have been thinking about the problem of many people on the right saying that those on the left are attacking them.  That they, the people on the right, are tired of it and are now fighting back.  From my research I’ve found that most who say this feel this way because they are having what they use to identify themselves, that is “I am a Conservative/Republican/Christian”.  An what is happening is most often not that they are being attacked but the ideas/concepts/beliefs are being challenged.

I decided to do a little research and I found that often when people have those ideals/principles challenged they can often feel personally attack.  This is especially true when the person arguing against them is using logic.  Logic is a blunt instrument and when used unthinkingly quite brutal (another post on that later).  But even when logic is not used as a blunt interment many people do feel they are being attacked in a debate.  I have also wondered why I usually don’t feel attacked when I’m disagreed with, and other times I do.

I think I shall deal with this last item first.  After a little thought and more reflection I have come to the conclusion it is because of my ‘trained’ ear.  By this I mean more than most, I can hear and recognize the anger and/or hostility in peoples voices.  Not to say, in the least little bit that everyone does not hear the anger/hostility, no not at all.  It is just because of my early life I developed a very good ear to the underlying emotion(s) in some one speaking.  This was do to both being raised by a speech couch and also personal survival, that is to avoid highly dangerous situations I learn to listen to how people were talking and not what they were saying.  So what does this have to do with argument vs. attack?  Just this, when we let anger, or hostility, or contempt, or disdain, etc, et al, enter our voice the other person will, most likely, key off of this and Not hear your words.

Now, with tone of voice dealt with, let us move on to other things.  I submit that one of the problems is too many of my fellow Americans have never really been thought the deference between argument and debate.  Even our dictionaries are not much help here as more often than not they show a debate as a form of argument.  An in a sense this is right, but it is also very misleading.  The main point I wish to make here is that in a debate it is quite possible for one side to accept the position of the other without any loss of face.  In fact it is often as not seen as being the highest rank of a debater to acknowledge the validity of their opponent.  In an argument, this is not the case.  When you are in an argument winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing.  Or at least this is how way to many Americans feel.

In closing let me point out this one fact.  Disagreement is not an Attack.  It is just disagreement.  This country was founded and has grown strong with the principle that we can disagree with each other.  True there are too many time in our past that we have ignored or forgotten this principle.  It looks like we may be forgetting this principle now, I hope and pray not.  So I ask each an everyone of you to help yourself and others to remember:

Disagreement is not an Attack

Debate is not an Argument

Listen to the words other may speak