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The last couple of days I have been struck by an odd malady.

I’ve been reading a lot about various views on a variety of matters from roleplaying through to gang violence. These have started a train of thought in my head about how I feel about these issues and I begin to write a post or response.

Then I kind of freeze up. I delete my long, and often well-reasoned, responses and just move on. Why?

Well, it strikes me that many people like to argue for the sake of arguing. They succumb to the old technic of looking for flaws in reasoning without stopping to think about the intent and drive behind the case they are arguing against. I know this, because I do it on many an occasion as well – it’s an easy trap to fall into and one we were constantly warned about in Argumentation Theory.

See, as much as people hate to admit it, we do often act on intuition and instinct. A good argument will take that as a foundation, but then look for reason in their position and (hopefully) be open to the possibility that their intuition is wrong.

I just realise that I’m not feeling up to getting into actual long silly arguments anymore. When I was younger, I was ready to leap in with both feet and take on anyone I felt had made an fallacious argument – but these days… well I just get exhausted as I run through the variety of responses that I will likely receive and often talk myself out of getting involved in what soon seems like a fruitless exercise.

Take, for example, a long post I wrote about gang violence. The main points of the argument were that there is no real excuse for gang violence – the situations these people find themselves in can be overcome, but they need to be willing to stop. The other part was that violence is not part of human nature – which lead to my often argued position that humanity defines itself and thus has only itself to blame.

Now I had reasoned this out and had a fairly solid post when I realised that there will be several schools of response – the first is the classic middle-class apologist approach: “How can we really understand what it is like to be in that situation?” – the problem with this approach is that most NZers likely know someone with some degree of gang affiliation. I know that I have a couple of friends who have lived in gang neighbourhoods and grown up surrounded by gang life – and they have successfully turned their backs on it.

The next was taking on the human nature argument – which is a tougher cookie to crack. Not to forget the argument about the complexity of stopping gang violence – no point stopping hitting the other kid if he wont stop punching you.

It just seemed far to big a mess to take on. The same goes for a debate about how we should judge games – too many perspectives and no willingness to accept each other’s view.

Now much of this is due to my own over analysing what the likely response to my arguments is going to be.

Yet here I am right now, trying to approach it again. 🙂

I guess for me one of the things that I think about is how can the world be improved? To me there is so much that is wrong with the way we live. But how can you make it better without falling into the classic traps of hubris, facism, authoritarianism… or wishing for the fairyland dream that everyone becomes more educated and figures it out for themselves?

Still working on those questions… I’ll let you know if I ever find the answer… 🙂

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