"There are two sides to every argument. They are always both wrong." - Happy Cow
Most of us are probably familiar with the phrase 'there are two sides to every argument'. The phrase is usually used to highlight the idea that both sides in an argument are valid to some extent. I would like you to consider that this is, in fact, not the case and that the two sides of an argument are always both wrong.
Before I proceed, I would like to differentiate between an argument and a discussion or a debate. When using the term argument, I am referring to a competitive situation in which both parties are convinced that they are right and the other side is wrong and they are trying to convince the other side of this. There is often strong emotion involved as well. Contrast this with a discussion in which different points of view may be raised, but nobody feels a need to impose their viewpoint on anyone else. Such discussions can be very healthy and help everyone involved to expand their perspectives.
So, why do I think that both sides in an argument are always both wrong?
Each of us as an individual personality can only ever have an extremely narrow view of the infinite universe. In one of her letters in the advice section, Happy Cow wrote the following:-
"A soaring eagle has one point of view. An ant has a very different point of view. You cannot say that one is 'true' and the other is not. Both may be able to observe and gather facts about their environment from their different points of view. These will be valid observations and they will be genuine facts. But they will not be truth. Truth encompasses the whole, which neither point of view is able to take in. The ant cannot see the panoramic landscape that the eagle can. The eagle cannot see the ground-level detail that the ant can."
Imagine that the eagle and the ant were having a heated argument in which each was trying to convince the other that their view of the world was the 'right' view and the other's view was 'wrong'. This would seem pretty stupid, wouldn't it? Anyone watching from an outside perspective would be able to see their foolishness. But this is what we do every time we get into an argument.
It is very foolish to ever believe that our individual, very narrow perspective of the world is the only one which is valid. It is foolish to believe that we can know Truth with our very small individual human minds.
It is very foolish to argue. So, why do we do it?
It is always because, at least to some extent, we have attached some of our self-worth to the outcome of the argument. To use a common phrase 'it has got personal'. Each side is emotionally involved, competitive and seeking a 'winning' outcome because they believe they will somehow be a lesser person if one or more of their opinions turns out to be 'wrong'.
And there is a fundamental mistake. Believing that who you are is nothing more than the sum of your thoughts, beliefs and opinions. They are not who you are at all. Who you are is infinitely greater than that. Thoughts, beliefs and opinions are not even fixed, but fluid, so how can they be who you are? Do you have the same beliefs and opinions today that you had 15 years ago? Will you have the same opinions in another 5 years time? Furthermore, the majority of the thoughts that run through your mind are not even initiated by you. (See the article Ecstasy).
Arguments are sustained by petty egos striving for survival. Next time you find yourself beginning to argue, pause and then do yourself a favour. Remember the ant and the eagle. Let your ego diminish and feel the beautiful freedom it brings. Celebrate the wonderful myriad of different points of view which all exist at the same time.
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