Introduction and contents
A few months ago I deleted most of the content of this blog. Some stuff remains elsewhere in serialised PDF form but much has disappeared forever. That was a necessary response to a change in circumstances and a move into the corporate world where the rules are a bit different from those of self-employment. However it was never my intention to stop blogging, simply to change the ‘feel’ of my blog.
Now I think I’m ready to begin again with a new blog series. This one is dedicated to the memory of my late Grandfather, Martin Munro, a man from very humble beginnings who fought passionately for the rights of others throughout his 73 years. A lifelong socialist, educationalist, local politician (before politics was a career in itself) and magistrate, it was he who instilled in me a sense of justice and compassion that has remained with me throughout my life.
Martin Munro died in 1978 when I was just 13 years old and I certainly don’t claim that he taught me all he knew. Actually he taught me something much more valuable. My grandfather taught me how to think, how to reason and how to debate. I cannot over-estimate the value of these lessons or the sense of gratitude I have for them. So I dedicate this series to his memory.
But that’s not why I’m writing it. After all, Martin Munro is dead and gone. He’s in no position to care one way or another about what I do today. The reason I’m writing this stuff down is the same reason that I wrote the earlier series on ‘Emotional Management’ (now a downloadable PDF at http://www.thecareguy.com). I write this for my own three children, Aidan, Megan and Jacob.
Hopefully they can benefit in turn from these principles of debate and fit them to their own time just as I have adapted them to fit contemporary media and culture in mine.
As ever the series will develop over time but will include (more or less) the following topics:
1 The aim is to reach a reasonable conclusion – NOT to win at all costs;
2 Some people confuse debate with conflict;
3 These discussions are often not worth your time;
4 Real change agents do real things – they do more than just witter on social media;
5 Others have a right to disagree;
6 Not agreeing does not equal not listening;
7 Nobody cares what you think so much as they care about what they think;
8 The easiest way to ride a horse is in the direction that the horse is going so start with agreement if you can;
9 Most people want what they believe to be right – a good starting assumption;
10 Never begin from a position of ridicule or hostility;
11 Insults persuade nobody;
12 The weaker the other person’s argument, the greater their need to insult you will be;
13 ‘Straw man’ arguments don’t help;
14 Point scoring leads to no more than a Phyrric victory;
15 A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still;
16 When you’re wrong, admit it. Learn from it;
17 You can always learn from criticism (either about your own position or that of the other);
18 Never ‘checkmate’ the other person;
19 Never pretend that one injustice justifies another;
20 When there is nothing constructive to be gained don’t waste your time in pointless/circular arguments;
21 Six honest serving men.
As the series progresses I will, as always welcome feedback. Please let me know what you think.
You can download a free PDF of this entire series here