Debating with a fool

12th October, 2012 - Posted by Claire Larsen - No Comments

Did you ever notice how current the wisdom of Proverbs is? Wise Solomon who lived so many centuries ago gives good advice to the leaders of today who are running for the most important positions in our nation — president and vice president. This is what he said: “If a wise man goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace” (Proverbs 29:9).

Politics aside, a disturbing thing about the recent presidential and vice presidential debates has been the disrespectful, patronizing, and scoffing manner that the Democratic candidates responded during the debates towards their opponents. Debates are supposed to be about ideas and policies and the strategies by which the candidates hope to govern this nation. When a candidate attempts to win a debate, not by ideas, but by rudeness and ridicule, the debater loses stature and looks small-minded.

What are some of the first things we try to teach our children in respect to communication? Don’t be rude. Don’t interrupt. Don’t call names. Look the person in the eyes and show respect to the person who is speaking.  It is sad when our nation’s leaders demonstrate that they haven’t learned what we teach our children in kindergarten.

The other thing that disturbs me is that too many people think that this pattern of disrespect and rudeness is commendable. They believe it’s the way to win a debate. They laud the men whorun roughshod over their opponents, interrupt them in the middle of their sentences, and roll their eyes as their opponents answer the questions. Do we think this is acceptable behavior? Do we want our children to act this way? What kind of role model are our nation’s leaders when this is their debating style?

How do you debate with a fool? A wise man keeps himself under control and sticks to ideas and facts (not personal attacks). Is it possible to win a debate with a fool? Maybe it depends upon what you mean by win. Whatever the polls say about who won the debate last night, in my mind the man who treats his opponent respectfully is a big man and a person worthy of my respect.

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