Zia Hassan

The Anti Debate

From the moment we enter the debate arena, we are poised to disagree. We have counter-arguments ready, truth bombs to drop, people to convince and persuade.

The audience, in a thoughtful debate, will change their mind numerous times. But I’ve never seen a debate where a debater’s mind is changed. Perhaps it’s by design and a debate is performance art. Like watching something static while everything else moves around it. Like values and beliefs ebbing and flowing around a stone in a river.

It would be nice, for once, to watch a debate where two or more people with different beliefs on a debate topic could only talk about assertions with which they genuinely agreed.

This little constraint could turn a feud into a connection, hostility into discovery. We could call it an anti-debate. The participants would not provide false beliefs; they would just find common ground… and then they’d stay there.

How much could we learn from a conversation where we are forced to find our similarities and intentionally avoid talking about our differences?

It’s no way to live, because we need to talk a about our differences sometimes.

But for a brief moment in a very tense time, we could break down a barrier, and maybe see the humanity in those people we previously dismissed.