A good debate is good for the mindPublished 9:01am Monday, September 3, 2012
I am an opinionated person. I try to be fair but at times I express my opinion loudly. It gets me into trouble some of the time. People don’t always appreciate my opinion.
Though I am opinionated I do believe in another person’s right to express their opinion even if it does not agree with mine. I like to have discussions with people who do not share my opinion on a subject. Occasionally my opinion is changed by what the other person has to say. It depends on who I am having this discussion with as to how heated it gets. If it is someone I do not know very well I try to keep my tone at a quiet level. Those of you who know me know I am not a quiet person.
Recently I was having a discussion with a friend in our church basement. It got a little loud. The next day someone said to me, “I noticed you were having a very lively discussion over in the corner.” This person had the impression that we were possibly arguing. We were disagreeing in a very friendly loud way.
The person I was having this discussion with is a very old friend. We are both very passionate about what we believe in and stand our ground for that which we are passionate about. What I love about this friend is that through our loud honest discussions we come out of the discussion smiling and being better friends than before. In our earlier years we shared a church position. We would have a meeting with the pastor and we would get into one of our lively discussions. We would then come to a resolution of our problem but the pastor would be very edgy wondering how all this disagreeing would end. He was always amazed that we came to a mutual decision or agreed to disagree and still stay friends.
I love our friendship. Its honesty and acceptance of each other’s quirky ways makes life very interesting. We aren’t always able to spend time together but when we are back together it as if we have never been apart. Her energy feeds me.
In my family we have a hard time having discussions especially about politics, as we have one son with different viewpoints than ours. The problem isn’t with us disagreeing or our discussions, the problem is with another adult family member that gets upset about the loudness of the disagreement. This person is worried that these lively discussions will cause a rift in our family. I have explained it means that we are passionate about the subject and occasionally the subject gets lively but we never end up separating ourselves from each other.
I remember many years ago the loud discussions between my husband and his brothers at football season. One brother was a Kansas City Chiefs fan, being from Kansas City, and my husband and his other brother were Vikings fans. The bets would fly, the women would be afraid the afternoon or evening was going to end up in a whopping fight. It never did. This was their way of expressing their passion over their football favorites. I see that now.
It’s risky giving your opinion. We aren’t always tactful when we give our opinion. We risk being hurt.
The alternative to not voicing your opinion if you have a strong, passionate feeling about something is akin to stuffing a sack full of stuff. You keep stuffing that sack until it will hold no more and then it will break open and erupt and spill all of the stuff on the floor. The same happens when we stuff what we feel; it erupts at the wrong time.
In an ideal world expressing your opinion would be like my friend and I. We could express our feelings passionately and respectfully and not be ridiculed because of it. We might change some minds and we might not. We felt good because we tried and we felt good because our opinion while not being agreed with was respected.
There are times when the blows are falling cruelly in a discussion that people curl up like a little mouse in a corner so they are not drawn into the discussion. Think about a startling revelation we might miss about a subject because the little mouse in the corner might have the wisest comments to contribute to our discussion had not our nasty rebukes scared him away.
Of course my friend might disagree with me. I look forward to having that discussion with her. She and I would make a good radio show. What could be better than a couple of older (not aged) opinionated loud women discussing what age is too old to wear a bikini? Or should your neighbors get upset if you paint your house purple? Those would be two subjects we would loudly disagree on. Anyone looking for two older, fabulous older, women talk show hosts?
Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.