I miss debate.
I miss discussion.
I miss the days when people with opposing viewpoints would go to dinner, sit around a table, and talk.
Each person would lay out their opinions, state their reasoning, possibly explain how they came to that conclusion.
The friends around the table would listen respectfully, answering probing, intelligent questions along the way.
The tide would then turn and it would be the other person’s turn to express their opinions, and how they reached them.
Hours would pass, while food, drink, laughter, and discussion flowed.
At the end of the evening, hands would be shaken, hugs would be given, friends part, still friends.
No hurt feelings. No insults.
This is how it used to be, not so very long ago. Back when opinions and debate were a normal item.
I miss this. Conversations like this do not happen any longer, at least not very often.
No matter what side of the political aisle you land on, I think that most would agree that in today’s climate, debate and discussion are not always welcome.
Over time, there seems to have been a shift.
To disagree now seems to mean that one party simply cannot be around the other person.
On various social media posts, people openly state that those who disagree with them are no longer their “friends.” People who have known each other in real life for many years are blocking, deleting, unfollowing each other.
Some of these actions are valid. Some toxic people do need to be removed from our lives.
Where is the compassion? Where is the friendship, the mutual respect, the understanding of the fact that different life circumstances lead to different perspectives for everyone?
Several years ago, I had a very close friend, who has since passed away. Her beliefs were the polar opposite of everything that I believe or did at the time. We supported different candidates. We voted opposite of each other. We used to joke that we voted to cancel the other person out.
Then we would go to dinner together. We called each other during televised events to comment on each person’s candidate, what they said, what they meant. We would debate. We would discuss. Sometimes we would argue.
At the end of the debate, we would say goodnight and hang up the phone, still friends.
It does not seem that we do that anymore. It seems that we are not allowed that freedom any longer.
When we meet with family and friends, we tell our children that we aren’t going to discuss certain topics. We avoid the argument with those that we disagree with. We choose the peace over the possible disagreement.
I miss it. I miss the time when we could disagree with the policy, but still find value in the person. I miss when disagreement on political issues did not mean that we did not have other items in common.
Will we get back to that place?
Has too much water gone under the bridge for that to happen again? Will we as a people be able to debate again, and not take every disagreement so personally?
I certainly hope that we will.
I find it a skill to be able to debate. It challenges the mind and causes people to think differently. This is how we grow, and learn to understand the viewpoints and perspectives of others.
This is how we grow as people.
Without the debate, without the discussion, only bringing up certain topics with those whose thinking aligns with ours, we cannot grow.
That is the fear of a society without debate. We do not grow, we stay the same, without the understanding of others viewpoints. With no understanding of other’s viewpoints, we lose compassion. Without compassion, we lose our humanity.
That is quite a bothersome thought.