Tuesday, September 4, 2007

No more “time outs”.

First off let me say what I mean by, “time outs”. I’m talking about the process of argument suppression in which one party claims that a discussion is getting too intense and then asserts that stopping the discourse is the only reasonable option. This includes the ‘no religious/political discussion’ rules that you see in different venues (think: your local pub), and the similar conventions (WILLINGLY!) observed at ‘polite’ events and dinner tables all across America (and possibly other earthly places).

We are given this ‘wisdom’ from an early age in the form of admonishments such as: “if you don’t have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself”, “I’m not going to argue this with you”, “don’t waste your time with them because they don’t understand”, etc…

This variety of politeness is poisonous. It retards the development of two important life skills: the ability to discover the truth (or at least some reasonable facsimile) through group and/or co-examination of data, and social reconciliation/tolerance/understanding of those who don’t mimic you exactly (you will find this group includes every other human).

What kind of society can you build with a population of socially retarded social primates? A broken one. What kind of government will such a society have? A broken one.

If you never learn how to disagree, you never learn how to compromise. If you never learn how to compromise, then you, by default, live in a, “my way or the highway”, totalitarian reality. We’ve previously visited the polarized mindset so I’ll not repeat that. I’ll just ask, if you live in a totalitarian reality, how could you let anyone else live any other way? You can’t. You’ll either vote for people who represent your totalitarian views, or, if you’re FORTUNE(ate) [yeah I’m saying if you’re wealthy enough] to be in a position to actually dictate policy, you’ll attempt to make manifest your totalitarian reality.

While that concept doesn’t fit your image of a democracy, a republic, or even a democratic republic, I bet it does fit various Democratic and/or Republican agendas you’ve witnessed and experienced.

Now, ask yourself again why our legislature (really our government as a whole) can continuously fail to enact even the simplest and most obvious courses of positive action.


P.J. said...

Excellent points. I think the sad fact is we don't have a government, we have a body of politicians. A fine line some might say, but a line none the less.

When I'm too worried about looking good so I can keep my job (more often than not only so I can keep raking in the cash), I don't have time to actually do the job.

Perhaps things like term limits and a work week and vacation schedule, as well as a pay scale, equivalent to that of the national average would spur these politicians into actually becoming governors (not State governors here but using the term as though who would govern).

As far as being polite thanks to the mores of society, I think that is arguable. For example, when relaxing with friends and playing cards, I may or may not want to get into a debate on religion. Depends on my mood.

I think really "time out" is only the shelter of those in a close (romantic) relationship, not a shield for discussions among colleagues, co-workers, associates or friends.

showard said...

Ever try to argue with the devoutly religious?

Certain topics are best avoided in casual conversation. You know I'm always down for a religious debate. (It's always fun to argue "facts" that can't be proven, or disproven.)

Still, the reason for avoiding these topics in your local pub is to keep the peace. The pub's there to make money first, fostering discussion is a secondary byproduct of the social lubricant. So, the informal ban on hotbed issues (like religion and politics) is more about keeping the doors open and the till full than anything else.

At my house, I discourage heated debate on religion and politics since I'm a total moderate and can't stand the rantings of political or religious zealots. (I include the devoutly atheist right in with that lot, too... Anyone who can speak in absolute terms about religion's a zealot, in my humble opinion.) Political discussions tend to be more civilized, but still bring out the inner a-hole in a lot of people.


I agree with PJ on timeouts. I think I could likely use the occasional "time out" in arguments in my home. Myself, I'm not a perfect opponent, I can fight dirty. I can often take arguments to a new level and get mean. That's not something I'm proud of, and if I take a step back and let my temper settle, I'm sure that flaw would be easier to control. If "time outs" can help cooler heads prevail and more constructive dialog, I'm all for them.

natural muze said...

hmmmm. interesting blog mwanagangi.

as far as our government is concerned, i agree with you. the 'time outs' that are too frequently taken by the leaders that be are often not time outs but 'throw outs', as in never to be discussed again, totally disregarded. that is where the totalitarian view comes into play.

but on a personal level, i think that some subjects ARE meant to be debated or discussed at certain times/places. a heated religion debate is not the best thing for an after hours party. sure, it can be stimulating, but often times people just want to let their hair down and have fun.

even in my dialogues with you i am often guilty of calling 'time out' and labeling things taboo to talk about in our conversations. lol. (mostly because it's late and i can't think lol) sometimes you just want to talk without the stress of other issues coming into play.

peaces my genius friend!!

Mwangangi said...

Interesting points.

I'm moving very far away from any hope of a non-revolutionary government reform.

All of your objections belong in the same category. The noted deficiency lies with the participant, not the argument.

P.J. said...

non-revolutionary government reform?

C'est impossible. The problem is, you can't rouse the general pop into a revolution thanks to apathy caused by too many time outs.

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