What does it mean to debate? Well in a debate there are usually two opposing viewpoints being expressed to convince a third party to choose one over the other. What if you only have two people with two different viewpoints battling it out to convince each other? How many times have you seen arguments like that? Both sides believing their side is the right side hands down, and they just don’t know how the other can have the beliefs or opinions they do. Next thing you know, name calling is initiated, “Fucking idoit!”, and both are storming away with neither side conceding to the others. So, what was the point in that?
Have you ever been in that situation, battling it out with someone about opposite viewpoints or opinions? Ask yourself, what was the outcome you were hoping for? If the person you were battling it out with, by some miracle, halfway through the argument stopped and said, “Yes, I totally agree with you. You are right”, would that have changed any lives? Would the other person be happier in some way, would their life had changed for the better, would it have caused them to have an epiphany on how to solve world hunger? Would agreeing with you made some kind of dramatic change somewhere in the world or would the outcome be you were right and they were wrong?
Essentially, I would consider that a debate without the third party. When you have two people with deeply passionate viewpoints, chances of those views getting changed in a discussion are probably very slim. People’s views are formed from where they were raised, how they were raised, who they were raised by, from past and current events that have affected them in some very personal way, shape, or form, usually resulting in their present-day strong opinions. It is not easy to change those over-night or at all in most cases. We can not change people by forcing our views on them. People change because they want to change; because they see something in someone else or have a personal experience in their own life that has intrigued them to look further into a different path. A person will pursue change if they really want it.
This topic is one I have and still battle with. I have had extraordinarily strong vocal opinions, and in the past seven years have not only realized it’s a personal trait I truly dislike about myself, and others around me dislike as well, but one I work to change every day. I’m not mad that I have those passions, I’m upset at how I use them. Being passionate about something is fine and it has created great change in the world. Everyone has a right to their opinions and passions, but that’s exactly it. EVERYONE has that right, and who am I to try and change someone to have the same opinion or passions as myself. Especially if the world will not change on its axis because someone agrees with me.
For instance, I am very passionate about making the earth healthier and coexisting with nature. A few years back I was that annoying facebooker who everyday was posting a million reasons why you should do this or that, and all the negative stuff that is resulting from people not treating the earth better. For one, that’s like waking up to a bowl of negativity every day, and kind of saying, you don’t like the way they live. Kind of a daily slap in the face that soon can cause the reaction of, “thanks for thinking of me but fuck you”, and next thing you know, everyone has stopped following your feed.
But then I realized something a couple years back. I started to really reflect on myself and saw that I was doing a lot of bitching without any solutions. It’s easy to bitch about the things you don’t like, but if there isn’t a way to change that for the positive, then what is the point to the bitching? I also realized I have some major faults when it comes to how I treat the earth as well, and instead of bitching about everyone else, why not find way to change my life for the better in that area instead. I started focusing on ways I could be a better person, be a more positive influence and more earth friendly in my own life. My new goal was to find alternative positive solutions to the things I used to bitch about in the past. Hoping, down the road, that something about how I’m living will inspire or peak someone’s interest to change something in their own lives for the better. The debate mentality ceases to exist, and all that debating energy is then being put to better use with a more likely outcome of changing my own life for the better. And who knows, maybe that is what leads to someone legitimately being interested in how I’m living or doing something, and asking about it.
So, what if you see someone is unhappy and you feel as though you have some great advice that might help them? My new motto is, tell someone once and move on. They are informed of another way or path to take, and if they choose not to take your advice, for whatever reason, then it’s not meant to be or maybe it’s not meant to be at that particular time and place. Everyone is on a different path in life. Sometimes those paths are harder or simply different, but maybe there is a reason for that path that you nor I can see. Maybe by going down the harder or different path they meet a person that completely changes their life, or they experience something they would otherwise have never experienced. That person or experience was the key to them doing something completely different or understanding something in a way that resonates with them better. What works for some does not work for all, and the same goes for the paths we all decide to take in life. I may not understand it, but that doesn’t make it wrong, it just makes it different.
None of us can foresee the future (well fortune tellers, but that is only one of many possibilities for the future), and in these days it’s hard to even know what is fact and what isn’t any more, so next time we feel the urge to get into that debate, ask yourself, “what outcome am I hoping for, and is there something in my own life I could be putting that energy towards to make better?” Maybe in doing so, we inspire positive change in someone else without even trying.