Thursday, May 9, 2013

"Hey waiter, I'll have what debate"

The entire paradigm of The Debate is based on the notion that the most apt conclusion can be reached only by letting a host of germane viewpoints hammer and crash against each other, at the culmination of which will emerge a conclusion, battered and dented, but all the more mature and polished for it. I say debates (at least the way I see they are conducted and pan out) are more a fanfare-creating device than a forum for honest discussion. If you need a debate to convince you of an ideology, then maybe you haven't thought it through well enough to be part of the informed debate in the first place. This is not, whatsoever, a plea to be stubborn or parochial about one's own views. It's a plea that one must substantiate any idea for oneself, of one's own steam.

Debates are perpetuated by the belief that diversity of opinion is something to be cherished. This can be a grossly misleading idea, if you're not careful.

Now, I know that not every issue is black or white, but how many legitimately different ways can there be of describing -- to employ a proverbial specimen as an example -- an elephant, unless one is holding up a limb or a tusk or a tail and purporting it to be a comprehensive definition of the elephant?

Debates, as we know them, involve a panel of persons groping and grasping at the isolated perspective they are given to as individuals. My plea is, let us not allow the individual to be reduced to having to play the role of providing one of the many ingredients of a debate. Each individual should be armed with a holistic vision on an issue that must resemble the truth as closely as the individual's fallibility allows. If there is but one truth, there should never be two different takes. If you differ from another's viewpoint, that is just what constitutes the variance -- the different viewpoint, the different location; you need to just shift your locus and align with the other perspective to reconcile the discrepancy. But with such a shift, the elephant, or the truth does not, in itself, ever change.

Now, I know the vicissitudes of life make it nigh on impossible for there not to be different perspectives. Life offers too many caprices, too many discombobulating contours for a solid stance to view a phenomenon from (unless you are powerfully ensconced in your Meditative Zen State) and is too unreasonably hurried for the truth not to be often formed in a blurred haze.

So, I know we live in a complex world that's rendered even more inscrutable by its tendency to be unstable. But honestly, that does not mean we allow spades to be called geranium flowers. Of course, a spade may well appear as a geranium flower to somebody else. But you'd be a fool to yourself to allow them to con you into calling what appears as a spade to you as a geranium flower. The key is to know your spade and your geranium flower well enough, be able to distinguish between what each represents in your universe and hold fast to the truth of both definitions, that you can stand your ground if and when you are presented a hot, boiling pot of lies.

Sing and dance, Powerpants!

1 comment:

p.balakrishna said...

A debate should help one evolve an informed opinion by providing information that one may not have have previously, or a new angle that did not occur to one or the basis or reason why a person holds a particular view.
none of these happen in the TV debates because the anchor does not seek to elicit information but does most of the speaking and selects panelists with predictable stands and cuts off any panelist who does not voice the standard opinions.