Debating to Misfortune

Undutiful words of a subject do often take deeper root than the memory of ill deedsSir Walter Raleigh

It was a tranquil evening with the whole compound silent except for the hymning of a distant bird. I sat near my PC hitting at the keyboard as I took note of the flowing ideas and also indulged in deep meditation. At the same time, I created interlude to have intellectual discussion with a friend on Time Management and other matter. It was one of the most fruitful discussions I have had in a month. I miss the thrill of engaging in motivational dialogue with someone at such hour of the day. In fact, it was part of the resolution of that discussion that I should resume blogging.

Then I came to Facebook to check my wall and reply a few important messages. I looked at my wall, and saw this venom spitting young man raining abuse at everyone that was against his opinion and raining insulting the Muslim religion. I also noticed that the young man obviously was unaware that among these discussants are few who are actually wiser than him and older as well. I felt embarrassed, and decided that such insult will not be allowed on my page. Since I posted the link in the fist place, I elected to remove it and end the argument that was fast turning into religious war.

Not quite long after, the young man posted a single word on my wall “Coward!” In a calm and calculating manner, I asked him what that mean. But on the second note, I decided to give him a strong reply. A friend who was with me then prevailed on me to let him be.

My friend said “if a mad man abuse you on a street and you abuse him back, who will people call mad man?” That logic won the day and I decided to let the incidence go. Obviously, the young man would have been thinking that he scored a victory, whereas he’d just shown me that he is not the kind for serious discussion.  Have built a reputation of avoiding crazy argument even in the heat of action and concentrating on issue instead of insulting people. This has been my personal guide everywhere I go. It is hard to get me angry, yet when I get angry I make sure that I don’t act in anger. Except when I lost control, which is rare.

I have noticed how some of us used insulting words against people we don’t even know. And I have noticed also how many of our youths turned the liberty of Facebook (and other open forum) into liberty of impunity.  We freely insult other people hoping they will not find us out since we don’t know them and since our path may never cross again. The fact that we mingle with elders on the same forum/platform does not implies that we should be unmindful of how we talk and interact with them. Today, almost everyone who can hit the keyboard and have good command of English has become an elder and an expert on every subject. Little wonder why many continue to talk themselves into calamity. The man you insult today may in fact turn out to be an important person you will need tomorrow.

I am using this note to appeal to the younger generation to take caution when arguing with elders. We may not agree with them and we may seem to know something they don’t know, we certainly cannot say we are wiser than them.

I participated in a discussion meant to discuss Dele Giwa’s death and openly disagreed with the elder in question. Soon the discussion turned into learning experience; the kind that will never have been if I have attacked the man for holding contrary opinion to mine. Another elderly (name withheld) came in, and the next lines of dialogue turn out to be once in life time knowledge. I was not the only one who learned there. I know others who equally express admiration and awe after the discussion was over.

The point is this, we are African. I am not sure if the European cultures allow their elders to be openly ridiculed by the younger ones, but I know that African culture placed emphasis on mutual respect. Both youths and the elders are needed to make a society complete. It is therefore necessary that we must learn to disagree with people, young or old without the need to attack them and run them down.

Should you, however, for the sake of winning argument decide to run over every one that disagree with you, rightly or wrongly, without considering the fact that you may be seeing things from different  angles, they you are laying a strong foundation for your own failure; you are missing a golden opportunity.

Most of us are passive communicators. We talk for the sake of talking and do nothing to show that we can actually demonstrate our talk. Some people are gifted in act of talking but are unmitigated disaster when to come to acting their talk. They are the kind that will openly castigate a dictator and go behind to take bribe from the same man while secretly voting for the dictator. Is it a coincidence that we are a nation fill with intellectuals but could not find a working formula for our national development?

Worst still is the ability to hold an opinion that is contrary to other people and still expect people to buy it hooks line and sinkers just because you sound nice in their ears. What is wrong with persuasion?

If you need to argue at all, make sure you do so with intellectual reasoning and with utmost respect the other person’s opinions. Open your mind wider than you open your mouth, you will not be disappointed. Win through sensible debate and not through needless arguments that bring you nearer to self destruction though it won you amorphous fame.

I will close this article with a word of Leonardo da Vinci “The oyster open completely when the moon is full; and when the crab sees one it throws a piece of stone or seaweed into it and the Oyster cannot close again so that it serves the crab for meat. Such is the fate of him who opens his mouth too much and thereby put himself at the mercy of his listener.”


  1. This is a great piece, one that everyone needs to read and learn from. Respect is key and we knowing when to speak and when to be quiet is also important

  2. i like this,it remained us of our african background,respect is what make us africans.

  3. I agree, I think we must not lose our head just because we are opportune to share podium with elders...


Powered by Blogger.