Debate vs. Rewilding

I have opinions, sure. And yeah, I talk about them. A lot. But mostly with close friends and rarely do I debate them. I’ve never liked debate. The emotional stakes in debate rest way too high for my enjoyment. Debate does not imply a conversation where two sides try to find a middle ground, or where a curious open-minded person learns something new, but rather how each side can continuously argue back and forth trying to prove the other person wrong. If someone concedes to the other, it means they admit to their “wrongness”. The feelings of shame and embarrassment that come with “wrongness” emotionally prevent people from actually coming to terms with another. To debate means to refuse acceptance.

I can tell right away if someone would rather debate with me (not actually listen to what I say) than learn something new. As soon as the conversation trends towards debate, I kill it. Some people have no interest in evaluating their cultural mythology and looking at the world in a different way. Others simple love to argue with people. I don’t think that the action of debating refers to a higher level of comprehension or some intellectual skill. I think it simply works as an ego trip of narcissistic mental masturbation.

How can you tell the difference between a close-minded debate and a pleasant, curious conversation? Because of my distaste for debate, I have learned to talk about rewilding in a more “common sense” style that doesn’t require me to keep records on sources of information. Most of it just makes sense. As soon as someone asks me for “where I got my facts” I know I’ve slipped into debate mode, and I shut it down.

As long as a debate lasts, no one takes action. If we continue to debate about Climate Change, we will not use the time we have to act accordingly. I wonder how many debates happened on the Titanic the night it sunk. My writing has little to do with debating, and while I write persuasive, critical essays, I have no interest in debating them. Debates can, regardless of how ridiculous either side sounds, go on forever.

I will not debate civilization’s inherent unsustainability with anyone anymore. These days, I matter-of-factly articulate how civilization functions, very quickly. Agriculture does this, populations do this, civilization comes forth. In explaining rewilding, I see no need for debate. I see a need for shared observed reality. Once people can observe what this culture does to the planet, rewilding just looks like common sense.

11 Comments on “Debate vs. Rewilding”

  1. Think of your typical high school debate club. Only sometimes do you even get to argue the side that you even believe in. More often, someone assigns a side to you, and you have to try to defend that side. I think that practice alone can help a lot of people, because it forces you to set aside your own point of view, and see things from someone else’s, if only for a little bit.

    I personally think that when two or more intelligent, passionate people debate a topic, we all stand to learn a lot more from the contact. When you pull on everything you know and that all gets thrown around, it leaves a lot of room to learn. I’ve never enjoyed defeat so much as when I’ve experienced it at the end of a good debate, because then, “defeat” just means that I’ve learned something new.

    Of course, this all degenerates pretty quickly when you encounter not people of intelligence and passion who want to test their ideas against one another, but entrenched, obstinate people who believe in their position not because of the evidence, but have simply collected evidence that supports the position that they believe in for entirely other reasons. You don’t trade ideas then. You trade rationalizations. I think Thomas Jefferson said, “The hardest thing to talk a man out of, is something he was never talked into in the first place.” If someone holds a position for reasons other than the persuasion of the evidence, then no amount of evidence can persuade him otherwise.

    Of course, most of what passes for “debate” on the internet falls under the latter. It’s made me almost completely unwilling to read comments on most sites, much less take the time to answer them. I have more important things to do–which includes not just genuinely important things, but even trivial things that I merely enjoy personally.

    But I think it still helps to remember this distinction, because we can learn so much from a REAL debate. I’d hate to lose that, just because of the nonsense that people go around calling “debate.”

  2. Great comparison with the Titanic ship— unreal of how calm people remained as the boat sank – guess that’ll be the same for most civilized folks in denial as the world dies around us – despite obvious evidence staring back at us in our faces all the while–

  3. Debate is a great way to test ones logic.True,debating things that you dont feal like debating or take as a given is boring but for those close enough to my way of thinking to challange me on it,it can be very enlighting for

  4. I feel like debate is the forced intellectualization of communication. True communication comes from the heart, for it’s through the heart that we can connect to the unity of which we all are a part. The intellect is localized. It deals with finite conceptualizations, and while it can be a powerful tool for gaining a more complete and nuanced understanding of a given subject, truth cannot be known by the intellect alone. I would go so far as to say that the intellect itself isn’t needed in order to recognize truth. I feel like that is the core of what is fundamentally wrong with Science and what is fundamentally right with animism. I don’t judge the livingness of a rock or the validity of a conversation with a tree based upon an external standard. I recognize it as being true because I experience the living, loving, formless, and fluid reality of it deep within my heart. To attempt to prove to someone that the Earth is alive based upon evidence that appeals to the intellect is to miss the point. Evidence exists that ratifies that truth, but so long as an individual is unwilling to look beyond the surface and connect to the direct experience of it, the intellect will be able to rationalize away any external evidence you can gather.

    To truly communicate with another person, be they animal, vegetable, mineral, or immaterial, is to talk heart to heart. It is to open oneself to the revelation of truth as it resonates within another, to be willing to suspend the judgment of the intellect that is inherently limited by a framework of assumptions. For it is only when that superficial judgment is momentarily withheld that we actually open ourselves to the truth as witnessed from another vantage point. Truth, reality itself, transcends the finite; its totality cannot be confined to any localized perspective, to any mental box, no matter how sophisticated. To deny the reflection of truth in another person’s understanding is to deny yourself the opportunity to transcend the fallacy hidden within your own perspective.

  5. Why argue with a fucking idiot! It doesn’t make any sense. They will “remember” when they are ready to, or they won’t.

  6. Hey Jason,

    It’s funny you mention the high school debate team. Having to debate something that you don’t believe in can make you expand your awareness of a subject, but more often I have seen it simply teach that you can bullshit anything whether you believe in it or not. I was part of such a team once and had to debate subjects that I didn’t believe in and that’s when I realized that I could win most debates through being a really good actor, and being able to fake more sincerity of belief than the opponent, not because I had better information but because I could manipulate the conversation better than they could. So in the end I didn’t experience the debate class as a way of expanding my own beliefs but simply a “how to bullshit your way to winning an argument” class.

    But I obviously enjoy engaging conversations with differing view points, as we have had many in the past, that never get argumentative. (although we’ve had those too! 🙂 Once something becomes argumentative, people shut down. For curious people, there is never an argument because they are just asking questions and telling their stories and interpreting generously (as we do on Debate to me implies two sides trying to prove each other wrong. Whereas, a conversation with a friend might just be telling our experiences and explaining why we feel things and asking each other questions.

    This is not to say that ALL debate is BAD or something like that, but I think most debate (and especially online) is about bullshitting. Unless it is community specific like Ishcon or something. I learned to really hold certain kinds of conversations there, as well as having it solidify my own beliefs by having to defend them. But even there, I did a debate class thing where I created a fake profile and argued things I don’t actually believe that ended with someone going to Daniel Quinn to get his opinion because they could not win the argument with me. Again, I can bullshit pretty well.

  7. the biggest thing wrong with debate is its duality. today we are so conditioned to think only of the two sides of things. the wrong and the right. i ask you when we look into the world outside of contemporary civilization where do you see this duality?…… my answer is nowhere.

    we have invented it and it has destroyed our way of thinking.

    i would take it a little further ad say it has led us to accept factualness as truth.
    “because the must be an ultimate truth”(sarcastic)

    since when do facts have anything to do with truth?

    its ironic. over and over again we are presented with false truths in justice, politics,and economy that were given on very factual grounds. we think they must be right because there not wrong.
    but it is not truth.

    i don’t know what the answer is. i enjoy dynamic conversation and feel we can learn a lot from the activity. but until a new form arises i fear it dose not have much value other than to perpetuate this way of life.

    i have seen a few glimmers of hope with so called “Geothian conversation” and “theory U”

    but as a movement away from civilization i feel it is of up most importance that we begin to address our inner circumstance as much as we address the outer.