When was the last time you realized that you have forced yourself into a deep pile of shit? This dawn of realization occurred to me after a couple of futile arguments with my friend on burning issues in India. Thereafter, I realized that arguing would serve nothing other than waste of time and energy. You try to win an argument whatsoever your points are but never realize whether are you making a valid point.
The latest Sabarimala issue in India had two of my friends (a conservative young man and a liberal contemporary young woman) talking about the topic. What initially started as a discussion ended up in asking awkward questions and trading personal insults. And I stood as a mute spectator enjoying the show.
The problem with arguments is they never lead to conclusion but instead create more confusion. In my several personal experiences involving and witnessing arguments so far, I realized much later, that I lacked proper sleep on that night. Courtesy goes to my stupid friends; I am surrounded by lot of them. By calling them stupid, I am not labelling myself as an intellectual, instead I am more stupid than them because we all are friends.
Everyone is intellectual in our society; at least we believe we are. But not wise enough to discuss but stupid enough to argue. The best possible way we try to win an argument is by raising our voice without realizing how illogical our statements are.
The peculiar ingredient which we see in arguments especially between parents and children is the Emotion. This feeling is Universal. Below are my two conversations I had with my mom.
On one particular weekend, I was relaxing in my flat and my phone rings.
ME: Hi, Mom.. How are you?
Mom: From today, you should not eat non veg for one month. Not even Egg.
Me: Why? Did any swine flu epidemic strike our country?
Mom: Kaarthika Maasam (a holy month in Hindu Calendar) started from today. So, no non-veg.
Me: Are you serious? How can I break my relationship with Egg Biriyani?
Mom: You should. Just for one month.
Me: If everyone thinks the same, half of Indian restaurants have to shut down causing severe loss to economy.
Mom: I don’t care whether others are following the same or not. You should not eat. That’s all..
Me: But mom…
Mom: That’s all. It is Saturday. Did you take bath today?
Me: For me it is weekend. Not yet given a thought about it.
Mom: How irresponsible and arrogant have you become?………….
And the rant and scolding continues….
In my parent’s house, Friday, 7 PM. My mom asks me to buy few things from local grocery shop.
Mom: Dei, go to grocery shop and bring xxxxxx.
Me: I don’t have cash in my wallet. I want money.
Mom: I won’t give money today. It is Friday today, that too evening and Pooja time.
(Indians have this weird custom of not giving money to someone on Fridays after Pooja. We consider Friday as auspicious day for Goddess Lakshmi, who brings fortunes)
With a face palm,
Me: Then how can I bring groceries?
Mom: Tell the shop owner that you will give money next time you visit. He will understand us.
Me: What???? Sorry, I can’t say that. I will buy groceries only if I have money in my hand.
Mom: Ok. Then go to ATM, withdraw money and buy groceries. I can’t give money. Today is Friday.
Me: ATM is 2 km away. I can’t walk that far.
Mom is now furious and I continue my intellectual talk.
Me: But mom. I have one doubt. How is it you are not willing to move cash outside of the house and at the same time you are OK if the money goes through online and ATM? In both the cases, our money is involved for the transaction.
Mom: You started disrespecting parents. You are not at all listening to parents words now. You changed a lot. You will never understand culture and tradition.
Me: I am 25 years old now. I can understand everything. All these small things you do in the name of tradition seems to be ridiculous.
Mom: How dare you?
Me: Okkkk! You want groceries? I will bring it. Bye.
At the shop..
Me: Aunty, Please give me two coconuts, green chillies,1 packet of wheat. How much for all these?
Aunty: 130 rupees.
Me: Today is Friday. My mom told that she will give money later.
Aunty: Ok son.. No problem..
I threw a wicked smile at her and while walking back to home I was amused at the level of understanding and trust the ladies and the shop owners had between them in my neighborhood. If I say the same thing that ‘I will give you later’ to bank manager for 15 lakhs home loan without collateral and he agrees to that, that would have been the happiest moment in my life.
In the above two conversations I had with my mom, it finally resulted in an argument. My mom is a traditional lady who strictly follows culture and traditions and she has her own perspective. I am a millennial whose life style and thoughts are pretty much different with that of my parents. Are we willing to listen to each other? No and Never. I will try to put my statement on the basis of my understanding and mom counters me with her own logic. Is there any substantial conclusion? No. Is there any mutual benefit? Not at all.
A month ago, I had two of my friends who started a discussion with their manager at work regarding career plans and ended up arguing with them with no conclusion or next step to take forward. Their statements, aspirations and feelings were right. But, was that the proper way to convey? How much ever frustrated and disappointed we are, many times, we fail to convey our message perfectly to the other person. Forget about the stupidity of the other person. If we try to argue and not to discuss with the opposite person, there will be no sleep that night.
Having our own perspective is not wrong but respecting and thinking from the opponent’s perspective will save the relationship we have with them. A peculiar problem in this context is, even though we understand other person’s perspective, we are unable to digest it and try very hard to drive our point into their head.
A bit of stubbornness is a good virtue to possess in everyone and likewise equal amounts of humility should also complement that stubbornness. We precisely fail here. The problem with argument, which I observed many times is the arguing parties never realize that they are indeed arguing. They think that they are trying to explain some sense to the other person as if he himself has got more sense. Most of us lack basic humility to accept and agree to the other person’s perspective.
Election result from five Indian states is out. Congress party won and my friend says Rahul Gandhi showed better leadership qualities in these elections and he has the potential to become next PM. I have to teach some sense to him by discussing with him but I am sure that might end in an argument and I am not going to have proper sleep tonight.
Image by Arunkumar Umapathy [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons
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