Monday, February 22, 2010

"You Can Be Right; I'll Be Happy"

As you read this, please understand that I will react differently in the future. My relationships with family and friends are so much more important to me than proving my point or winning an argument. I purposely did not include the material that presented the argument issue because my intent is not to prove anyone correct or incorrect. "You may be right; I may be crazy."

I was baited into a dead end debate this past weekend. I posted a Youtube video on Facebook that was against recent propositions for health care reform. I realize that all media has its biases, but I am so against the measures that current proposals have had. Someone took offense that I would post something that he considered so erroneous. He said that it didn’t represent a real bill. (But it did cite pages and lines.) I’m sure that the video was flavored by the one who made the video, but it did get its original content from a real bill. He implied that my cousin and I were spewing lies on Facebook and that we were stupid for posting the video.
One of his comments included a site which he said proved that the video was incorrect. I didn’t find this source any more trustworthy than the source we posted. But, once again, I wasn’t trying to credit or discredit my post or credit this person and discredit myself. I just don’t think that I was leading anyone astray. I definitely was stating that I am opposed to the current ideas for healthcare reform. Socialized medicine just does not work. But I do think that all of my friends can sift through what is real and what is not on their own. I give them credit for that.
My initial reaction was just to delete his comments. That’s where I wish I had left it. But I first saw the video when my cousin had posted it, and he also left many derogatory comments on her post. So I sent a note to his in-box.
As it turns out, we all feel pretty much the same about health care issues. His intent was to prove that he was right and to get me to fess up that I was wrong. He claimed to care about just posting truth, being brutally truthful as he would call it. My point was that I had a right to post things whether they are true or not. I think that all my friends are intelligent enough to take a video expression for what it is. I think that we all know that there are biases and propaganda involved in posting different sides to an issue. But he feels like he must defend issues that he opposes if they aren’t presented as he thinks they should be. So he pursued winning an argument instead of reaching a consensus. I feel more of a responsibility to be diplomatic than manipulative. I would rather retain a friendship with someone whom I share similar values than win an argument. It must be a lonely position to have to be right always.
His claim was we were passing on scare tactics with this video. He said that just makes it so partisan and that everyone should do research and not just spew lies. If partisan means being able to have your own thoughts and not have someone else tell you what you can and cannot post, then I guess I am for partisanship. I think it is interesting that we were actually “united” in how we feel about health care proposals, and yet he felt that he had to argue the point of the truth of a video not to persuade us that it was wrong, but to tell us that we are stupid and that he is correct. I really don’t think he cared so much about whether or not it was true as he did about winning an argument.
I originally had our interactions posted on my blog in their entirety. But my intent is not to prove that I am right and he is wrong or vice versa. So I deleted them. I often post blogs even while I am drafting and revising. My intent is to say that we should be kind and gentle with one another. If we want to persuade someone to see our point of view, it should be done with respect and not criticism. We should be able to allow others to believe what they want even if we think our beliefs are better. If we really care about someone being misinformed, we should approach them with kindness and express our opinions in a thoughtful manner. It doesn’t ever work to try to force someone to see things your way.
I tried to use private interaction by writing to his inbox. He preferred public interaction that would draw more people into the argument. He said that I was childish for removing his comments and that he would never hide anyone, delete their comments, or delete them as a Facebook friend.
I woke up Sunday morning with the intent to write him an apology for carrying this on so far. Well Sunday is a busy day for me. Finishing preparations for my Sunday school lesson came first. When I did look at Facebook in the afternoon, I found that he had copied my blog notes of our conversation into his own blog. He posted it on my Facebook page for me to go see. I read it; plus I read his dad’s reaction to it which was very wise and kind. I did write him a nice letter; I told him that I deleted the video and my blog notes; I even told him good luck with his new blog post. I thought that it was finished then.
But then I saw that he was really looking for validation that he was right on his own Facebook page. A friend of his told him that she had deleted someone over a politic issue a month or so ago. She was trying to persuade him that it wasn’t worth it to argue over politics. I did post a comment saying that I agreed with her and that it was over. He continued his debate with his friend that was posting comments and a new argument ensued. So instead of being baited in again and instead of worrying about how he is trying to present me to all of his friends, I did delete him as a Facebook friend. Childish, no. I care more about him and about myself than to continue arguing over things of such little import at the expense of kind feelings. It really doesn’t matter who’s right. It matters who knows how to walk away without proving he is right. Hopefully, I can apply this lesson better next time.

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