“It is amazing how many people think that they can answer an argument by attributing bad motives to those who disagree with them. Using this kind of reasoning, you can believe or not believe anything about anything, without having to bother to deal with facts or logic.” ~ Thomas Sowell …
So many of the important issues of today are swept under the rug by character attacks. It seems that over the last decade or so this style of rebuttal to arguments has become nearly the norm when it comes to politicians. Here, discrediting and attacking the character of those who disagree with them becomes the first and only answer employed. But such a personal attack is wholly wrong, for not only does it disrespect others’ thoughts, ideas, and arguments, but it also dismisses those thoughts without even allowing them to be examined.
Do you ever notice the “personal attack” being used around you? How often do others attempt to “win” an argument by discrediting you? How often do you try to stymie the attempts of others to employ facts and logic to answer an argument? When an idea contradicts our beliefs and deepest convictions, it is very tempting to try to discredit that idea by moving the focus off it and onto something else–preferably, something we can show in a negative light, like one’s character. Maybe their motives are selfish, unethical, or unfair. Perhaps their knowledge or upbringing makes them incompetent to disagree with us. But what about their idea?
If we discredit others without examining their thoughts, we truly are losing the argument. What’s more, we are rejecting the opportunity to learn more about our own beliefs and to grow in understanding, knowledge, and conviction. Perhaps examining the ideas of others will challenge our beliefs and even change them. But maybe it will simply reinforce our beliefs and leave us with a greater understanding of why we believe what we believe, and feel what we feel.
Many children look to us as role models–imitating our actions and emulating our behaviors–and the only way we will see change, is if we become the change we wish to experience. Thus, if the thoughts of someone else do not align with our own, as fellow human beings with similar experiences and gifts, we must take the time to consider their ideas; if we wish for others to respect the power and importance of logic and reason, we must respect their ideas, thoughts, and arguments. The way we treat others in this world says a lot about our character and goes a long way towards determining whether our experience here on Earth will be positive and meaningful.
Respectfully listen to and acknowledge the ideas and thoughts of others.
Questions to consider:
Why do we often focus on the motives of others rather than on facts and logic?
What are some of the things that other individuals disagree with you on?
Has anyone ever attacked your motives in order to avoid an argument? Why? How did it feel? How often do you do this same thing to others?
For further thought:
“He is a true fugitive, that flies from reason, by which men are sociable.” ~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations