The Search for an Open Hearted Debate
I am very passionate about ideas, philosophy, human (and women’s) rights, politics, religion – many of the topics you’re not supposed to talk about in mixed company. I am knowledgeable enough, and can carry a conversation on any one of these topics to a point, but I often get quite upset or emotional (my voice raises and people think I’m being ‘aggressive’, I would say passionate), which degrades my argument, and becomes exhausting, as I can’t get to the logic of the item at hand.
There are a couple of limits contained within these sorts of situations. The emotional charge that comes up, as I mentioned, usually makes it impossible to continue sharing ideas.
I want to be better at debate, but not because I simply like the sport of it (I know people who do this and find it very aggravating, as it’s almost like an amusing game to them, and they are continuously trying to bait people). I would like to be good at rhetoric, which is “the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques”. I wish that I had learned this in high school and/ or university. It needn’t be about a hot topic issue either; this skill seems useful during any sort of discussion. Why debate at all? Why discuss topics, controversial or not? Yes, I do want to persuade others to a different type of thinking, a more humanistic view of the world, to think of other humans and others’ rights in a new light. I want to open minds, and in turn be able to open mine and be able to see the other reasoned point of view. At the very least it would allow me to have an emotionless, logical conversation which doesn’t end in increased blood pressure. I also think this type of reasoned, knowledgeable conversation/discussion style is lacking in today’s (western) society.
As well, while I want to bring up the full details and sides of a particular topic or issue, and sources, I am limited by my ability to retain information. I can get to the gist of things, and I have a few concepts, but it ends up being somewhat surface level, as I can’t recall the next layer of counter concepts. I read fairly quickly, though I don’t often retain much of it, bits and pieces seem to get kept in my mind for further thought and discussion, but beyond that, it’s lost. While I think there may be some techniques I’m unaware of to help mitigate this, mainly I believe this limit is just the way my brain is – I simply have a bad memory.
I find meaning in sharing ideas, discussing topics and understanding my own, and others’ biases, and so I don’t want to quit having these conversations at all – sometimes I doubt I could, they are so much a part of my make-up. For now though, they are conversations with limits, ones I’m not sure how to break through yet.