Argie-bargie in politics
Whan fowk is discussin issues, the conversation whiles dwynes intae a wee stramash: ae side gies their thochtie on the thing, the ither says “naw, A think this ither thing,” an they juist rane their stances. An this is the mair-be-taiken whan it’s political issues. Whiles ye’r chancey tae even see fowk argollin for their position. An, whan this happens, fowk afttimes come awa fae it thinkin the same things they did aforehaund. Whiles, it’s mair the waur: whiles, fowk juist caw ilk anither names, like “yese ar juist dunderheids”. An they end up thinkin their ain position they awready haed even mair. An that’s a waesome state o affairs.
Sae whit dae we actually want tae be daein? Dae we want tae redd up tuilyies? Or evitin bein naur them whan they kythe? Or dae we juist want them no tae kythe?
Obviously, it wadnae be ideal tae evite the argie-bargie anent politics juist by no talkin anent the issues. Inspecially seein as the issues communed in politics is fair important anes. It wad be a fair feck better tae be evitin the conflict acause we speak anent the issues in a greeable, couthie wey. A wey whaur we compt ither fowk’s sides an unnerstaunin them an respectin them as human beins. An, as the blues muisician Daryl Davis (that we’ll see mair o later on in the airticle) says, ye cannae solve a problem ye deny the existence o an dinnae talk aboot.
Sae, ma quaisten nou is: whit can we dae tae evite this poustur/seetiation an hae deeper, mair mensefu, mair appen discussion anent thir issues, ’ithoot things turnin intae a collieshangie?
Corbyn’s idea o a “kinder politics” is a braw ane by wey o it. An this is the case whither ye think he manages tae walks up tae his ideas or no. Even juist the rhetoric delivers a positive vision o hou society could be.
An, tae turn tae anither recent topic, Stuart Campbell o Wings over Scotland’s comment anent David Mundell an his son (whaur he jokes aboot wissin Mundell the son wisnae born) wis juist giein him a nesty image. An that’s ma wey o it whither ye think o him as homophobic or no an whitiver ye think on his uise o his blog for investigative resairch. The comment fae the Wings blogger is a ensaumple o a certain kind o comment whaur fowk juist miscaw their opponents, insteid o giein argiments or solutions. As is exponed in a Newsnet airticle, whan fowk uise this kind o argiment, the writer can be blindit tae the effects it haes on their audience. An, through the internet, their audience is aften a bourach o fowk thir days; no juist a bunch o freends.
For a impressive ensaumple o the conter wey o discussin issues, blues muisicker Daryl Davis manages tae convince Ku Klux Klan wizards tae chynge their weys an abandon the ideas an practices o their umwhile organisation. An he manages that ’ithoot ettlin at insensin them: he juist wantit tae unnerstaun them. It inspecially shaws hou fowk’s feels can chynge; they can abandon auld prejudices whan they see things in a new licht. He allous fowk tae come tae their ain conclusions, juist bein the impetus for chynge.
This is a ensaumple o the fact that argie-bargie in politics isnae inevitable. Obviously, politics is mair conducive tae conflict acause it’s a context whaur major issues is discussed, whaur pouer is in the balance, whaur polarisation is rife, whaur judgements ar made an whaur laithsome statements is made. But aw that isnae inevitable as we can see in this ensaumple, acause we can sit doun thegither wi fowk we completely disagree wi on important issues an come tae unnerstaun ilk anither.
Anither thing we can see in the ensaumple o Daryl Davis is the approach tae ither fowk’s ideas: we dinnae necessarly want tae be insensin til fowk yer ain ideas, like ye’r the body that kens whit’s whit an like they dinnae ken onything.
Gif fowk haes positive attitudes, we can wirk wi that; gif they hae negative attitudes, we can wirk on that sae they can at least see that wir pynt o view is raisonable. An fowk certainly isnae gonnae hae positive attitudes.
Obviously, bein active in politics involves a fair feck mair than that; polite discussion certainly isnae aw there is tae it. Protests, staunin for election an votin, amang ither things, haes important places in politics.
An opinions arnae equivalent; ye cannae juist gie equal platform tae facts an “alternative facts”. Or gie equal platform tae hate an equality.
There is problems that need solvin in politics. But they can be energised by skarin vailues an ideas, by haein a weel-hertit vision o society wi howp for a brichter, better futur, ’ithoot jamphin. It’s ae method amang ithers.
It’s true that it disnae wirk wi awbody aither; awbody isnae amenable tae chyngin their ideas like that. Sittin doun at the table isnae feasible wi awbody. There is context whaur conflict resolution isnae sae relevant ony mair. Whan war is awready braken oot an the enemy’s a dictatorship, wi a mad chiel at the helm, it’s hard tae sit back an lat them dae whit they want. An this kind o irrationality will likely hae a “Monty Python black knight” approach tae defeat, whither it’s Daesh or Hitler.
But maist politic conflicts isnae wars, least o aw wars; they ar peacefu ontaks, whaur ilka side haes the chance tae express theirsels. ‘Ithin them, there’s mair room for appen an polite agreement an differin/disagreement.
Nou, A’ll be the first tae admit that A uised tae mock fowk A disagreed wi politically aforehaund. As a bairn, as a teenager, or even misfortunately as a adult, A’ve haed some interactions whaur ma idea wis juist tae shaw whit ma ain ideas wis, or no even that, an it didnae git me onywhaur.
But juist attackin an mockin ither fowk isnae whit’ll wirk: nae maiter hou reprehensible they ar, sae faur as we’r concerned. The auld lady screichin in the street winnae steek her gab juist acause A tell her tae, acause, sae faur as she’s concerned, her ain position is the richt ane. It could mebbe chynge something in the passers-by, but certainly no her.
Sae fowk can hae better discussions anent political issues by respectin the ither side o the issue, listenin an unnerstaunin ithers, by acceptin the possibility that ye’r wrang, an creatin situations wi positive emotions. An this is a braw idea in ony conversation.
For a mair appen an tolerant society as weel as for lang-term persuasive political muivements, A finn it wad be in the interest o awbody involved tae be a bit mair unnerstaunin. We can shaw that we hae whit it is necessar for tae be mair mature an responsible.
James McDonald is a Scots polyglot steyin in Réunion. He is keen on different leids, inspecially local leids, an their forderin, whither it’s Scots, Gaelic, Réunion Creole or ither leids. He wirks in scuils, helpin bairns wi their hamewirk an giein chess lessons. Ye can contact him on jmcd89 [AT] googlemail [DOT] com.