"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Respect and debate.

I love arguing. I love debate. It's the only way we learn, and grow, and stand up for ourselves. I believe in a lot of things; I enjoy any opportunity to stand up for what I believe in. We all should. The worst kind of people are not those with bad opinions, but with no opinions.

I am a big believer in the existance of many right answers and many wrong answers to any given question. I also believe that I personally believe in what is right for me, as I am, now. Which is why I don't hold it against myself that I change my mind, contradict a past self. Never change, grow.

However, I come from two cultures where debate is not always encouraged. Asia is still predominantly governed by Confucian ideology, as well as the social structure of absolute monarchy, class hierarchy and serfdom. I was raised in a culture where people are encouarged to argue by two people - my parents - who were taught not to argue. It's a bit of a mind fuck sometimes.

One thing that I was taught was to have absolute respect for one's elders. I don't follow that entirely - I do believe that Korea would be a much more progressive and innovative society if it wasn't crippled by its blind obedience to old people - but nonetheless I have a great respect for people who are older than me, and what I can learn from them; which is why I probably get irrationally snarky about younger people telling me what to do. I don't have any qualms about engaging in an argument with someone older than me - all my classmate are older than me, after all - but I couldn't explicitly tell them that they're wrong. Actually, I don't generally tell people that they're explicitly wrong unless they're trying to preach that Hitler was a pacifist or something. It's just disrespectful.

I have great respect for people who disagree with me on absolutely everything. Could you imagine how boring this world would be if we agreed about everything? I also don't think that our goal in life should be to convince as many people as possible that you're right and they're wrong. Right and wrong are fluid and arbitrary. What I believe to be right is, probably, right, but only for me; it might not be for someone else. Nobody has lived my life, nobody has seen what I have seen, and nobody has been through what I have been through, and these unique experiences inform my unique opinions. We have to celebrate diversity. So debate all you will, but I believe that if society learned to conduct itself with more respect and courtesy, the world would be a better place. Courteous aggressive debate.

Can you do that?

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