The Art of Public Discussion defines discussion as “an act or instance of discussing; consideration or examination by argument, comment, etc., esp. to explore solutions; informal debate.”  In this day and age of talk show showdowns and social networking commentary, this definition sounds old-fashioned, quaint.  I must admit that, to me, it also sounds really wonderful!

Perhaps I have been reading too many news article comments lately, but I really do find them irritating.  Often, the comments are ill-informed, one-sided, and prejudicial.  While the Internet has provided a great forum for an expression of public opinion, too often I find that the opinions expressed are superficial and show very little knowledge of the subject that they are commenting on.  In the grand scheme of things, it may not seem to really matter, but as it becomes more and more a part of everyday life, I think that the impact of continually taking critical standpoints rather than engaging in thoughtful and intelligent discussion creates and maintains a divisiveness and judgmentalism that keeps our country at a standstill.

We have many tough issues facing our country at this point in time.  It seems, however, that most people, rather than engage in fruitful discussion about them, wants to take a hypercritical stand, point fingers and blame the other side.  The attitude seems to be, “I don’t care what you on the other side have to say.  This is my viewpoint, and I’m sticking to it–come hell or high water!”

I wonder what debate in this country would look like, if it were truly a consideration of the other’s point of view and knowledge, an examination of what would really work best in a situation, and then talking about each other’s ideas until we arrived at a solution.   Anyone up for a great discussion?

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