Both sides now

(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)


Inspired by yesterday’s Catch on learning to understand “the other side,” Terri, who has spent most of her career as a college professor, sent me some insightful comments a few of which I am pleased to share with you today.

I was on the debate team in college. A debate tournament has six rounds. Three on the affirmative and three on the negative. It was an amazing experience. We were debating things like privacy issues, war powers, wage and price controls; oddly enough, many of those issues are contemporary. Then after the debates we would meet up with the opposing teams for supper. Nobody got angry because they lost. We learned about the issues on each side and probably made more reasoned personal decisions as a result. You often didn’t know where a person was personally on an issue because they could argue both sides so well.

One of the assignments almost every speech student gets in their argumentation class is to write argumentative essays on both sides of a controversial issue., fully researched and supported by evidence. I often gave that assignment to my students. 

After one semester, one of my older students in her 40s said this was the first time anyone had required her to show why she believed what she believed. I usually just accepted one side without really thinking about it.” 

We have lost the concept of critical thinking — of the process of seeking knowledge and learning to evaluate it and discussing things where there is often no clearcut right or wrong answer.

Imagine what would happen if we were all required to learn both sides of the arguments for and against legalized abortion, or gay marriage, or whether to wear masks, or whether to get vaccinated? Instead of turning everything into a moral issue and taking sides, we would know how to talk in an understanding way to people on all sides. And when our purpose is not to get everyone to think the same, but to introduce the gospel of welcome — grace turned outward — to everyone everywhere, being able to talk to everyone is essential. Far more important than politics.

Remember, when you think in terms of politics, there will always be us and them; when you think in terms of humanity and the good news of the gospel, there is only us. 

For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

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4 Responses to Both sides now

  1. Toni Petrella says:

    Debates are interesting because thy show and exchange of ideas different opinions. So true about humanity. Thank God each and every day for loving us so much he sent his son and all who believes and accepts the best is yet to come.

  2. jwfisch says:

    Yes, Toni. Bless you.

  3. Neil says:

    Had a wonderful debate with Granny in Amarillo during our first time meeting a month ago. She was a taught English and debate. She’s quite intelligent and quite liberal. I’m not quite intelligent and definitely not quite liberal 😎. We had an absolute blast talking with each other. Early on we talked about the rules and beauty of true debate foremost of which is respect. She sent a delightful note 10 days later. I’m going to see her in a couple days for my son’s wedding. Excited for round two of debate with Granny.

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