I read this somewhere: “An argument seeks to establish who is right and a discussion is to decide what is right!”
With India going into a very significant election over this month and in May, social media is agog with opinions and views on what people think will happen in the next 45-odd days – who will win, who is worthy of becoming PM and such. But even as people are expressing themselves freely, there’s a great deal of angst and intolerance that’s apparent. Political ideologies are dividing people at a social level. Often affecting old friendships. And that’s a sad thing to happen. I believe friendship that cannot allow a candid, calm and constructive discussion is not a mature friendship. What we all have to recognize is that whether someone supports one leader or the other, the core issue here is that all Indians want better leadership. Each one feels the person he or she is inspired by is a better leader. Now, if you don’t support your friend’s choice of national/political leadership, discuss and debate about the leader and leadership – don’t rubbish your friend hoping to win an avoidable, vitriolic argument. This serves no purpose. Actually, honestly, even social media posts serve no purpose at a nation-building level. But they do serve as a means of expressing ourselves freely. Such expression must be respected and any personal or acerbic remarks must be avoided ideally and surely expunged!
I have learnt that arguments over anything – not just over a political or academic or religious or ideological viewpoint – serve no purpose. They end up raising the decibel level and increasing acrimony. An argument is really an ego game. It is always fought over who is right than what is right. At a deeply spiritual level, even right and wrong is relative. What may be right to someone may always appear wrong to someone else. Or what may be right now to someone may appear to be wrong to the same person at another time. So, when what is right is debateable, what’s the point in deciding – that too, over a painful, often wasted, argument – who is right?
Osho, the Master, explains this beautifully: “Life is not divided into black and white – a lot of it is more like gray. And if you see very deeply, white is one extreme of gray and black is another extreme, but the expanse is of gray. So one can see it as white and one can see it as black. It is as if a glass is there, half full, half empty. Somebody says it is half full and this is the truth and somebody says it is half empty and this is the truth… and they start fighting. All arguments are more or less like that.”
So, in any context, in any situation, avoid the urge to argue. And stop wanting to be right and to be seen as right. If you have an opinion that is fair and constructive, and if you think all parties in the discussion will have the maturity to accept it, express it. If you believe that maturity is lacking in the forum, exercise your right to not participate. Ideally every perspective shared in a discussion must be constructive and must create value. If you can’t ensure that, it’s a simpler and intelligent response to just stay silent.