Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer

Tom in Iraq as a Military Observer
They sent me here just to watch...

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Fools and Pharisees – The Demons of Discussion

‘Tis the season for fools and Pharisees.  What do I mean?

It seems there is a whole bunch of “If you can’t see this my way, then you are the problem” comments floating around social media.

Social media has not only given false bravado to cowards but a place for the mindless to speak their minds.  What is the person who seeks civil discourse to do?  What is the person who desires intelligent conversation to do?

Move on.  Delete, block, or whatever is needed but move on. Don’t give in to the temptation to engage.   If you were driving around town looking for a hardware store, you wouldn’t stop for the afternoon at the local tavern.  Some do and there goes the afternoon and whatever project was in store for it.

The Proverbs counsel us not to discuss or argue with fools.  Well that’s putting someone down to call them a fool.  I know, in today’s world, correctness calls us to regard the absurd with reverence. 

You don’t have to play that game and you don’t have to label anyone a fool.  Just abide by your part of the guidance.  Don’t engage.  Unfollow, block, delete or whatever you must do not to indulge your cravings to engage.

It casts your pearls before swine.  What?  Now instead of calling people fools, we call them pigs?  No.  Consider the counsel as don’t give your best efforts—to include your well-reasoned arguments—to the least profitable engagements.

How do I know that I should engage no farther?  If what you proffered in sincere thought and respectful verbiage is countered with name calling, labeling, often hateful labeling, and I won’t discuss this, then disengage.  Many come to discussion sites not to discuss but to seek disciples of mindless devotion to the meme or platitude of the day which must be beyond reproach.  Actually, it is presumed to be beyond reproach.  These are usually filled with logical fallacies and often the offense that they so hypocritically address.

There is no intellectual profit here.  Disengage.  Unfollow, block, unfriend or whatever you must do to make sure that you do not return to your vomit. 

Sometimes this is difficult as the partner in such diatribes seems to be drowning in their own fallacies.  There is no lifeline to be thrown to the person intent on drowning.  Disengage.

Then there are the Pharisees who are civil in presentation but dogmatic in engagement.  If they believe that the world is flat, the presentation of facts becomes irrelevant. 

I encountered both fools and Pharisees once when I published and posted a short piece about teaching creation in public schools.  I was against it thinking that whatever was taught would have to be some sanitized version approved by multiple secular levels and void of original intent. What prompted my pontification was an ongoing dialogue about teaching something other than the theory of evolution. 

My thoughts were to directly teach thinking skills instead of hoping that students learned to think in math, science, or composition.  We could teach students how to know what they believed on faith, how we determined something to be fact, and what was theory.

I got a plethora of one-word replies:  Moron.  That was the extent of their dissent.

Others invested more verbiage without corresponding brainpower.  

Evolution has been a theory long enough that it is now a fact.

There was no valued discourse in either case.  Not a single response addressed the thought of teaching thinking skills.  Perhaps these many mindless responses were indirect validation of the need.  There is no valued discourse in such encounters. Sometimes you just move along.

The good news is that every once in awhile, not often, but every once in a while, you will find someone who is of the iron sharpens iron mode.  Pray that when you find such a person they are not of the same mind as you at least on some matters.

If you want to grow in your knowledge, analysis, wisdom, and fulness of life, you need someone who not only listens to understand your perspective, but will present theirs to you for like consumption and analysis. 

These are the discussions worth maintaining.  These are the relationships that build with each discussion.  Debate is not argument with disdain for the other’s point of view, but in full consideration of it.

Debate and discourse value diversity.  This requires a teachable spirit.  As adults, we find ourselves responsible for our own learning, even when in a structured program.  We need to be challenged in our thinking.

If we only want to confirm what we know or believe, we seek disciples.  If we want to learn, we seek those who value thinking.  Topics may vary.  Passion may be attached to some, but it is the willingness to understand each other so both may grow that makes these encounters worthwhile. 

Finding the right discussion partner is much like dating.  You may have 1000 first dates before you find someone worth asking out a second time.
Don’t give your best thinking to mindless banter and bandwagon slogans.  

Find the iron sharpens iron partner or partners and grow.  No second dates for fools and Pharisees.  They are the demons of discourse.

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