An Open Letter to someone with Extremely Vociferous Opinions

A letter I’m writing to you as I see that you’re ruled by your emotions and fragile ego, which are capable of inflicting harm on others who love you and who you probably are love by choice or are forced to love, by blood. A letter that should do you and your relationships good, if you are willing to approach it with an open mind, without being defensive, without letting your ego get the better of you.

1. Have discussions, not debates:

“The goal of debate: Simply stated, the objective of any true debate is to win; to achieve victory for your side and inflict defeat on the other. Debate is a zero-sum game: In order for you to win, your opponent has to lose. Debate has that in common with war. As a result, debate is deeply anti-intellectual.”
“The goal of an ideal discussion, Is to learn (and to teach, which is a form of learning). Unlike debate, it’s not zero-sum, rather it’s win-win. Discussion is like market exchange insofar as each side does it for mutual gain.

Your statement earlier was an offensive low blow when things weren’t going your way, here’s why:

“A good debater, because the object of debate is victory by any means short of violence, will zero in on her opponent’s weakest argument and make it the centrepiece of a relentless attack in the hopes of hammering him to submission or making him look ridiculous in the eyes of any spectators.”

There’s more where this came from, right here. Read it. With the amount of knowledge you are trying to seek, this will help you have better conversations, with a cooler head and a less fragile ego.

2. One word: Tolerance

Tolerance: The ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behaviour that one dislikes or disagrees with.

If you are going to be close-minded / small minded and unbudging from your opinion, then there is no difference between you and religious fanatics.

Religious fanatics are intolerant of others who believe differently and it ends up in violence that causes death. You are infuriated with others who do not buy into your opinion and your objective was “to convert them”, if I remember right. Tolerance doesn’t convert. Tolerance co-exists. Coexistence is important because the world is a better place with diversity and diversity increases chances of survival.

You are a fan of secularism. Secularism, doesn’t come without tolerance. Tolerance is not a word that’s applicable to religion alone. It means to tolerate existence of opinions different from yours. How can you blame a government for being unable to achieve secularism in country with over 1.3 billion souls, when you yourself lack tolerance towards opinions in your own family?

Family: a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit.

3. There’s no place for ego in relationships:

Of late, I have noticed that you come with an attitude that dangerously harbours on the lines of, “It’s me against the world”. This is fine when it comes to defending yourself against people who cause you harm, but not with your kith and kin. Let me call myself out here. I am not out to get you. I am entitled to my opinions just as you are. If anything I do or say, offends you, talk to me in a civilised manner. Not with inaudible mutterings under your breath and saying “never mind”, when the matter is probed further. Not by delivering low blows, and definitely not by making personal assaults. If open and civilised conversations don’t work for you, find out what does and let me know. I am willing to make myself scarce till you figure this out.

If your dynamics work only with strangers and not professionally, personally, romantically or with family, then it’s a good time to dig deeper and worry about the log in your eye, before you investigate the speck in that of others’.

4. Absorb the good, strain out the bad:

The city you’re in is a great place — culturally, to learn more, to network, to meet people from different walks of life. But it is also known for loud, obnoxious people, pseudo intellects, factions and pointless neo-nationalism. I worry you consort with the vehement ones and this is shaping you permanently, almost dangerously so.

5. The world belongs to those who adapt.

Don’t take things personally if they don’t go your way. Don’t be so set in your ways. Principles are important. But learn to be flexible, within your principles. Bend without breaking. Or you will be broken. Be open to opinions. Be open to learning. Empty your cup. You cannot fill a cup that’s already full.

6. Most Importantly: Rebel but not without a cause.

Here’s a beautiful quote that I hope will serve as food for thought:

“But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.” — G.K Chesterton

I hope you take this in the right spirit and that it helps you in all aspects of your life. This is not to say that I’m perfect. Digging deeper gave me some clarity of thought and I realise that some of these are equally applicable to me as well and I acknowledge that.

I don’t expect an acknowledgement of a rebuttal to this and while this is open to discussion at a much later time, only when we are a lot calmer and more clear headed, this is certainly NOT open to debate or argument.

Good day.