I had a conversation with a friend of mine last night where he was explaining a 'debate' he had online with some people about a particular gun rights issue. He laid out a great argument based on facts, logic, and historical perspective. In fact, I plan on using the information he gave if faced with a similar discussion. I will also admit that I'm a little jealous and wish I could lay out a position that well...
But it did get me to thinking: how much value is there in attempting to change the minds of faceless others on the internet? (ok, now I may have just totally called into question the very existence of this blog - but I'm not trying to win hearts a minds, just trying to get both of you reading this to think. And read some poetry....)
A person's social, political, religious, and moral ideals/values are most likely a very important part of who they are. Are they going to be moved to change a strongly-held belief by a discussion on the interwebs? If so, how much time and energy is it going to take? Might we be better off to spend those resources elsewhere?
I'm not saying we shouldn't have these types of discussions and try to change ways of thinking about important issues (and I respect and fully commend the efforts taken to do so), but how much good is it going to do? Is there value in trying to convince an anonymous person on the internet that gun rights advocates are not all racist white dudes hell bent on destroying the world? Or even trying to explain to a faceless person from who-knows-where the difference between a democracy and a constitutional republic?
Might we be better off having these discussions/debates with our family and close friends? I think we should start small and work out in ever-widening circles of influence in trying to win "hearts and minds".
Want to discuss how loose monetary policies might be slowly destroying our economy? Maybe your time would be better served having that conversation with your neighbor or friend down the street instead of someone in another time zone. Which one will give you a better ROI?
Want to debate the pros and cons of carrying concealed? Would it be more useful having the debate with some friend of a friend of a friend on facebook or (heaven forbid) your spouse?
Once you have approached your family and close circle of friends, then spread out into the ever-widening circles of influence: your workplace, church, neighborhood, town, region, state, etc.
At some point I'd like to touch on the family/tribe/clan concept, but that's for another time...
There will always be those that will not even want to hear what you have to say no matter how lucid and well laid out your arguments are. These will be easy to spot as they just tune you out or resort to name-calling and insults. To those (no matter if they are close friends or Joe Somebody online) you should just move along and stop casting your pearls before the swine. Or maybe you're just the kind of person who likes stirring the pot. In that case, stir on.....
There is also the point to be made that some consideration needs to be made with regards to with whom we are having what conversations. Some topics you may not want to be discussing with someone you don't know very well. I'll just leave it at that before my tinfoil starts showing.
Just something to think about the next time you consider getting into a debate over a "hot-button" issue.
Keep your powder dry.