The people I argue most with are those that I care about, family and friends. I don’t have a wife – alas, I’m too young for that – but if I’d have one, I suspect I would argue with her the most. It seems to me that the closer you are to a person, the most likely you are to argue with her.
Arguing, like war, seems to be an aspect of humankind that will endure forever. It’s not only unintelligent people who argue, but smart people too, doctors, lawyers, businessmen, scientists, politicians. One would expect great minds to be above arguing, but I would say that the smarter the people involved are, the more intense and complicated the argument will be. In Romania, for example, everyone argues about everything all the time, on the street, in the papers, on the radio, even in literary works.
“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.” ― John Milton, Areopagitica
Arguing appears to be unavoidable so long as you live near other people. But what interests me most is whether arguments should be pursued or abandoned with the first opportunity. I don’t speak about squabbles, but about important arguments, those in which someone contradicts an idea that is an intrinsic part of you. Like whether or not you should give money to beggars. Should you argue for your belief – is it strong enough to warrant that? – or should you say ‘okay, whatever,’ and go away?
Standing your ground is the brave thing to do, but going away often yields the best result – the argument doesn’t have the opportunity to take root, and by the time you meet again, neither of you will remember it. The downside is that no ideas will be developed, and although you avoid a verbal – possibly physical? – encounter, you’re none the wiser for it.
“Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.” ― Bruce Lee
Ah! But what if you can argue with someone without making enemies? Then your arguing becomes for both of you a debate, a process that develops new ideas, changes views, and challenges stubbornness. Let’s mention now Hegelian philosophy…
An idea is proposed, the thesis. Another idea is then proposed, which challenges the first, the antithesis. The argument then is resolved through a synthesis, which takes the best parts from the conflicting ideas to reach a conclusion that should pacify both sides.
“Any woman who is sure of her own wits, is a match, at any time, for a man who is not sure of his own temper.” ― Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White
If I ever marry, I’d like a wife with whom I can argue positively. Not someone who says yes to everything I propose, and not someone who cajoles me into saying yes to everything she proposes. But someone who through her sound arguments can change my ideas and views, and who, at the same time, can let herself be influenced by my strongest views and ideas. Someone strong, but also flexible. Someone who, like justice, truth, and steel, can bend but never break.