I really miss authentic debate. And no, I’m not being wistfully nostalgic for my high school debate team (never joined, don’t even remember if we even had one). But the more I write and the more I get published (and I admit, the more I tackle controversial topics) the more comments I get from readers. This is good. I welcome feedback. But I get really annoyed at people’s lack of debating skills. If you caught my article about the Pope meeting with Kim Davis, I had a guy tell me essentially that I sounded bitter and that I needed to remember that gay people have souls too.
There are several problems with his critique, the first being that I haven’t forgotten that the members of the LGBT community have souls. The second being that the only mention that the LGBT community gets in that particular article is that the Pope loves them the same way he loves everyone else. That is not an issue with me, and I strive to do the same. Loving people by degrees requires judgment, which I try to avoid like the plague because it’s that deadly for my soul (in that my personality is easily susceptible to it if I don’t remain vigilant.)
Anyway, it’s not the fact that the guy completely misunderstood my article to the point where I wonder if he actually read it that gets to me. I don’t even mind being insulted (between my religion and the way I choose to live my life I’m used to being insulted to my face all the time). It’s the larger issue that bothers me, the observation that people can’t debate to save their lives anymore. Perhaps that’s a bit of an overgeneralization, but it certainly feels that way to me. If people disagree with me it usually goes something like this:
- read about 2 sentences of actual article
- make assumptions about me as a writer/person in general
- (optional) begin to read rest of article with self-righteous indignation
- decide that they are superior to me in one or more ways
- insult the article/me in some condescending way
- feel smugly superior at “teaching me a lesson”/be proud of their attempt to enlighten me to their superiority and the shared superiority of those who also think like them.
This argumentative arrogance strikes me as particularly foolish because their actions demonstrate a low opinion of me that in turn makes them feel justified in not caring about me at all. What would possibly compel me to join a bunch that thinks and lives like that? Elitism is more than a superiority complex, it’s subtle hatred with public approval. You can’t judge someone without loving yourself a little more and the other person a little less. It makes me miss authentic debate that was based in reason and mutual respect, a desire to reveal to the other the truth that defines your life and your choices as an act of love (because real truth brings happiness and fulfilment, which is something at least I want for the people I love). It makes me miss being able to have a rational discussion about where differences of opinion occur, as opposed to the irrelevant emotionalism I described above.
And to respond to that particular stranger- no, it doesn’t make me bitter, this rise in elitism and this process of ineffectual “debating” that I see repeated over and over again. It simply makes me sad, because I respect God’s design of free will, where His love is constantly offered, but not forced on any person. It causes me suffering to see a soul not living in that love, because the alternative is usually some varying degree of a worldly attachment (such as pride) that will never truly satisfy no matter how much you chase it.
Because while the world may be an enticing place, there is so much more to the heavens.