DWQA QuestionsCategory: Subconscious MindA student asks: “I have a good lifelong friend. Our relationship has gotten more challenging lately as he clearly feels a deep need to counter almost every argument and value position I hold. Some of his positions are not well thought out, and our conversations involve my trying to assist him in really logically thinking through and examining some of the contradictions in his arguments. As the conversation was reaching an almost inevitable impasse, a “Good Samaritan” sitting next to me, chimed in and began supporting my efforts, and I could see this having some effect on my friend’s thinking. Can Creator share what was going on here, with my friend, the surprising intervention of the “Good Samaritan,” and the collective effort underway to help my friend gain some mastery over his own mind? Was this a worthwhile conversation, or a waste of time?”
Nicola Staff asked 9 months ago

The value of the exchange will be yours to judge, not ours. We understand the impulse here was a good one, to help that person be in a better state of understanding, as perceived by the questioner here. This is a complex exchange. Whenever two people may disagree about something, there are many inner emotional responses to perceived criticism and inner doubts about one’s capabilities and their perception of how they come across to the outside world. They will worry about loss of face, loss of status, and potential to be downgraded in the estimation of others whom they may respect, such that even a friendly conversation about important matters can become stressful and lead to defensive strategies to overcome inner fears, to hold one’s own but preserve one’s integrity, and in the bargain become somewhat defensive because of uncertainty in their own effectiveness. That was the case here where the individual could see the power and penetrating counter-argument and, in the moment, became threatened, and the inner fear was inhibiting the ability to think effectively, to fully defend the original argument and perspective, so this complicated the exchange.

There is a difference between winning an argument, meaning presenting such a forceful and definitive array of facts and information no one can disagree, so it becomes clearly an alignment with the truth to those present, and an argument that may be coming from a more sophisticated, more articulate, more authoritative source, and overwhelming the adversary in the moment who may be less equipped to marshal the same caliber of logic and debate skills and then gives in to fear and becomes silent. In a debate, that would be sign of defeat, but it does not truly address the issue of whether their perspective and their potential arguments are invalid. They are simply being inadequately or even poorly presented, and so will not be considered to the same extent as the more forceful presenter who is more self-confident and may have more practice in articulating their views. That is why such contests are never truly settled. They are never truly definitive. They are only a skirmish and not a definitive outcome that settles an issue once and for all, except perhaps in the minds of the participants if they go no further and their minds remain closed to further discussion or self-reflection about what transpired. So we would say an effective argument is one that carries divine truth and is done in a way that is effective in communicating that truth so it is apparent to others and will satisfy them. That is a different matter than overshadowing, pushing them aside, overwhelming them, but not winning them over. The latter will not always be possible because many people have a closed mind about many subjects and will not, at the first hearing, be able to process the details of an argument and realign their thinking accordingly, having seen its merit and then embracing it enthusiastically to be their own.

People are, in a sense, programmed to defend their views as important to their self-image and even self-worth. To the extent there is ego involvement, it will be even more difficult to be dispassionate and open to alternative perspectives, so that a person might change their mind on the spot and end up agreeing with the other party. There are many complications in having a friendly exchange of views end up in a productive teaching and learning situation, where someone truly gains by being shown something they were overlooking or lacking in their thinking and, if open, embrace the new knowledge and perspective and thereby become strengthened and truly gaining wisdom in the process. This is the nature of divine truth, it always contains wisdom, so it is arguments based on divine alignment to begin with that are the most valuable and the true sign of having a superior perspective, and by this we mean “of a divine nature,” not meaning to be inherently lofty in a way that would cast aspersions or diminish others who think and feel differently.

People come to understanding through many different paths and are often influenced by experiences and the beliefs of others that are truly distortions but taken to represent reality. When people’s thinking is based on distortions of information, it will be very difficult for them to break free unless they can proceed to assess each component of their argument and weigh its merits. Very few are trained or experienced in doing that exercise, but cultivating that capability will be very rewarding because it reflects the main benefit of having an open mind, the willingness to consider alternative points of view and give them a hearing and critical analysis. This is how those who are accomplished thinkers and opinion leaders gain those positions of authority and prestige. They have proven their ability to sort things out to get at the truth and thereby, will have the most thorough and powerful arguments to offer in a debate and will often occupy the higher ground.