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home : columnists : columnists November 20, 2014

6/27/2013 11:13:00 AM
Along the Way...

What's more important?

A relationship or an argument?

It's a no brainer to some folks I suppose. Unless you have been taught to enjoy the challenge of a quality "discussion!"

There aren't many of these nowadays it seems to me. Folks just get nasty. And I have fallen into that trap too.

But I smile as I think of many years ago when I decided to lose an argument because I saw a higher purpose.

Actually, losing an argument isn't part of my upbringing. But my father had a purpose in teaching me to stand up for my position.

I believe he was trying to help me avoid some of the stupider teenage episodes by teaching me not to follow whatever the "crowd" was doing.

And... I think he secretly just loved to "argue."

The only time I remember well though is when we were arguing over a particular religious belief. About who was God.

Kind of a hard topic at any age and I think I was only about nine years old.

I was no match for my Dad.

I struggled to convince him with everything my childish mind knew, but I finally conceded defeat.

Afterwards, all he did was walk by me as he left the room and quietly said, "You should have stuck to your guns. You were right."

I was totally shocked!

And I was "hooked."

So when I grew up I still enjoyed a good "discussion."

"Fast forward" many years later.

We had a distant relative who we only met at gatherings once a year or so.

He was a brain surgeon.

What I have discovered from some of these medical specialists is that they are convinced they are always right. And I figured they needed this psychologically because of the traumatic decisions they had to make.

But that didn't mean I gave him any leeway!

And it also didn't mean that I enjoyed losing an argument!

But while traveling on the way to one family gathering, I decided I would lose the first argument we had. (Notice it was just a practical conclusion that we would argue! But also, I only had control over what I did.)

I remember him standing in front of the fireplace in the home and I was so relieved when I discovered the subject wasn't that important to me. I really didn't care which way the argument went!

And I lost the argument.

But what I gained was so much more important.

I gained the ability to really enjoy the presence of a wonderful man. One who was very intelligent (doesn't mean he was always right though!) and one who had gone through many struggles.

This became a "teaching moment" for me that I recalled many times when I was challenged to argue.

Although this episode happened many years ago, I was surprised when I heard he had recently asked a relative about me... and if I was still arguing! (I guess you can tell that after that one time of losing an argument I didn't give up challenging ideas!)

At his funeral recently - he was 88 years old - I know the world is going to miss him and his "suggestions."

I do.

(Rest in peace Dr. Al.)





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