The Proper Response To Ignorance Is Compassion

I like to debate.  The practice of rhetoric and logic is something that I value highly and it’s something I want to continue to grow my skills in.  Naturally, especially these days, the spectrum of participants is wide.  Because of sites like Facebook, what was once saved for Mars Hill (the literal place in Athens where people used to go to debate and dialogue) and philosophy classes around the world is now opened up to any person who stumbles across a conversation.

I have lots of reasons for loving debate so much.  It builds relationships, it is a pursuit of truth, it sharpens your ability to think, it opens up observers to new realities, it constantly reminds us of important things and it is passionate.  One of the things I am trying to learn now though is what it can teach me about the people I am debating.  So much goes into one’s arguments that reveals aspects of another that wouldn’t otherwise be for the viewing.

There is a range of personalities and people in a debate.  Some folks are purely academic, some are purely emotional, some are purely religious, some are purely funny and most are a mix of all those different approaches.

Inevitably, you will cross paths with folks who just “don’t get it.”  Maybe they just can’t wrap their heads around the argument.  Maybe they are so set in their ways that nothing you say will get through to them.  Maybe emotions are high because of personal connection to the argument.  And now, seeing as our neighbours could possibly vote Donald Trump into office, we are seeing an increase in folks who are entering conversations who are completely ignorant.

We all run into these kinds of situations.  Where nothing seems to be working to get through to someone.  I don’t have much to say about this outside of encouraging us to really think about our response.

I think the only legitmate response to ignorance is compassion.  Anger doesn’t work.  Force doesn’t work.  Fighting doesn’t work.  Nothing works.  Sound arguments do not change the mind of the ignorant.  Compassion on the other hand, helps change our mind  and transcends the argument regardless of the attitude shift of the other.

Imagine entering into arguments with racists, sexists, misogynists, republicans, democrats, liberals, conservatives not with the task to prove them wrong and try to change their mind, but with the task to show them compassion, and to make sure they know that no matter where you land on the issue you are hearing them and care for them.

In this season of ignorance, may we respond with compassion.

2 Comments

  • Good word buddy. *mercy triumphs over judgment*

  • I also love the art of debate. One of the lessons I learned early was to debate a point; then a week later debate from the other sides perspective. It opens your thoughts to many other options and certainly helps one to understand where other people are coming from. If done well, both sides benefit.

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