Saturday, March 13, 2010

Defining things only you know

When do you get serious with your friends? If your friends are anything like mine the answer to that is simple - rarely and when it does happen it either happens due to tragedy, accident, alcohol, or some combination of the three. Why is that? How can you really know people if you aren't speaking to them about real life issues.

I can understand people's need for privacy on some issues but at the same time I've never sat at a bar with friends to discuss and debate our varied ideas of what 'love' really means. The most in depth issue people touch upon is politics; when among friends that means a lot of repeated ideals and head shaking agreement.

The first reason we steer clear of serious conversation is because, in America, we never learn to argue in a proper way. Debate is not taught to us at a young age; particularly in under-privileged families. I read once where a group of psychiatrists (probably read this in Psychology Today - a fantastic magazine) studied the different behaviors of children going to the doctor's office. The more money the child's family had the more question she would ask the doctor. Also, a few months back, after reading an interesting article online about a man who taught his children to argue, I sent the article to my brother saying; "you need to read this and teach my nephews to argue."

In school you listen to the teachers, they are god and we are not to argue with them. You argue with your friends about stupid things like what to do after school or who has the better looking girlfriend. The idea on how to best debate or argue comes from our parents. If we grow up watching our parents scream at one another we are more likely to believe that is how all arguing is done, at least until a certain age. If however, we grow up watching civil disagreements - that is how we are more likely to react. And lastly, as I grew up, some of us just learn to say "fine" and walk away.

We are doing our youngest generations a huge disservice by not teaching them that disagreements lead to discoveries, new ideas, new ways of thinking, simply they lead us to learn. Or at least, they could. Instead most people I know are conditioned to think that if you don't "win" an argument it wasn't worth having. If you are debating and your idea doesn't have as much back up data to show up whomever you are speaking with you have somehow lost. Maybe it's a problem with the speed and readiness of information but I think it's more than that, I think it's simply that we've never been properly taught how to debate where both sides share information and come out with, perhaps, a new joint view of things where everyone wins.

I had a girlfriend once who would refuse to learn anything. If I so much as said; "Oh did you know that you can..." a fight would break out. As if learning were an evil thing. That, needless to say, lasted a few months, at best. It was really strange and I didn't know how to deal with it but at the same time I have no idea how my best friends describe love.

Of course I'm using the definition of love as an example only. I have no idea why some of my friends believe in a god and some don't - I know, for the most part, which way they go but that is simply surface information, I'm learning the cliff notes of their lives. While I'm not afraid to challenge either side of that, or any, argument it's probably that I feel like I have enough information and we can move along to the next topic. Not tomorrow.

I'm meeting Georgia's mom tomorrow, hanging out with her sister and brother (and his family) and I'm going to try to ask one uncomfortable question. A question that isn't easily answered with a yes or no, a question that will make the family member I pick (most likely her sister or sister-in-law) feel kind of strange for having been asked that question. It's a small goal but it's something. I also hope to not die tomorrow, sometimes I think goals that are really easily attained are good to put on your list. Plus, even if I did die, I probably wouldn't notice, so I'd never think; "shit, my goal was to stay alive and I fucked it up."

How do you define love?

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