Thursday, July 15, 2004

What I've learned: Transferring Abilities

Someone once told me that life is willing to teach as long as I'm willing to listen. So whenever I learn a new lesson, I blog it.

I have had the privelege of discussing politics the past couple of days at my restaurant with the other servers-- business has been pretty slow. Many opinions were given, as would be expected when talking about a heated subject like politics. There was one girl in particular that piqued my interest. Jenn is a "hardcore" republican. She told me that she supports Bush. She also said that she's glad that we're at war with Iraq. Her reasoning was that America would look like pussies if we didn't go to war.

This wasn't the first time that I heard idiotic comments like that thrown around by uninformed citizens, so I didn't let it bother me. But it did bother Keith. Keith and I were the democratic voices of the night versus the right-wingers. He was so pissed off by what she said that he stormed off. I was hurt by what she said also, but I knew that I had the oppurtunity to help her and couldn't let my emotions get in the way.

I explained to her that yes it was important to go after someone, but who? Where does Iraq come in the picture when talking about 9/11. She couldn't answer. She rebutted with the tired arguement, "Saddam was a bad man." I let her know that there are many bad dictators out there who are oppressing their people, why Iraq? Again she had no answer. But at the moment I saw something in her eye. It was something that I had seen before but couldn't quite remember where.

She told me that she was willing to listen. I began talking and felt a flow of thoughts, points and ideas entering my mind. I was able to clearly and concisely deliver my arguement. As she was nodding her head in agreeance, I got that feeling again of familiarity with the situation. But again I couldn't remember where or when. After listening to what I said she went on her way.

Later on that night Keith, Jenn, and I were standing near each other and Keith made a comment about republicans. He looked at her expecting a reaction. She turned to him and said, "I'm not sure if I'm a republican anymore." He couldn't belive it! And at that moment it hit me. I realized what that feeling was that I was feeling earlier. It was the process of persuasive arguement.

I have been cultivating my skills as a persuasive speaker for much time now. When I used to go to church (more on that later), I remember the debate settings where I had to argue and try to persuade the other side to see the situation as I did. After a while I became very proficient at clearly and comcisely arguing my points. It even got me into trouble.

I have been liberal for a long time. I remember my dad used to call me The Liberal and I didn't even really know what he was talking about. In my later teen years I began criticizing many of the things the pastor and the church administration were doing. Many policies that they formed and enforced seemed wrong. And I received much flak for being so outspoken. And it didn't help that the pastor was my dad.

But I distinctly remember arguing my point-of-view and seeing a twinkle in the eyes of some of my listeners. It was like a light had went off in their head. They knew that what I was saying was right. But they wouldn't back me up. They just left me to be ostracized and alienated for my beliefs. But after the altercations people would always pull me aside and privately reveal to me that they believed me. At my lowest and most vulnerable point these individuals were where I found my strength.

But I didn't think that I would be able to transfer my arguing abilities to endeavors outside of church-- until I talked to Jenn. Her reaction was a reaction that I have seen many times. I just never saw it outside of religious discussions. So what should I make of this?

I am not really sure. I don't want to be a politician. I don't want to argue issues for a living. I do not need the answer right now though. I will let life guide me.

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