In Defense of Discourse

Today, a co-worker and I had an earnest and intelligent discussion about food philosophies.  She espouses a certain food lifestyle that I wished to know more about.  I had read opposing views and seen conflicting statistics and wondered what the “real” story was.  To be perfectly honest, I leaned a little bit against her views, but sincerely wished to understand the other side better.  We had a wonderful and serious debate, where she allowed me to present the views which clashed with hers.  She listened to me.  I listened to her.  And then we went back to work.

Does it ever seem to you as if this situation RARELY happens?  Why does it sometimes feel as if you CAN’T express a contrary opinion, even if you are just searching for answers?  Why can’t we talk about our various beliefs and inquire about the why’s and wherefore’s of someone else’s views without it becoming a heated argument?

Now, perhaps someone’s dietary choices are not a sufficiently inflammatory topic, and so of course our conversation was civil.  Maybe if we had talked religion or politics, the outcome might have been very different.  (I really don’t think so, however, knowing what a sweetheart my co-worker is.)

Does the topic matter?  Do the personalities of the conversationalists matter?  I think “yes” on both those counts.

But wouldn’t it be a relief if we could all temper our egos a bit, let the other side to be heard, and allow for the possibility that maybe, just maybe, the thoughts that rumble around in our heads might be incomplete, or even wrong?