Mister Chairperson, Distinguished Time Keeper, and Members of the Opposition: Our nation—nay, our world—has been suffering from a lack of disagreement. From “Fifty Shades of Grey” to “Gangnam Style,” people have been complacent, too willing to agree with the majority. Times are changing, however. All of the cool kids, from Mitt Romney to Barack Obama, are debating again. Those with fewer athletic gifts, now armed with deep voices, speech outlines, and business attire, are cool again—they even have Lincoln-Douglas, Parliamentary, and extemp on their side.
You see, I might not be strong, but I’m better than everyone else: I’m more intelligent and I have charisma. I know that. But how are others supposed to know that? “Well, I guess you could be charming to them?” you say in a sheepish mumble.
Rebuttal: You’re wrong (and I’m not surprised). They learn it by debating with me.
Every moment is a chance to brush up on my debate skills. When my mom says that she’s cooking lasagna for dinner, that’s an opportunity to say, “Mom, carbohydrates are ruining society. Subpoint: Let’s have a make-your-own-taco night.” When my friend asks me to be nicer, that’s a chance to say, “Look, Jim, nice is ruining society. Subpoint: Can you give me a ride home?” Looking in the mirror in the morning I can say, “Mirror, be shinier so that I can see myself clearer. Subpoint: Stop doing things wrong.”
The way to get ahead isn’t by agreeing with people. Your voice doesn’t just exist to talk and sing. It also exists to belittle and intimidate, to persuade and dominate, especially when unsolicited. Sure, you could let slide your friend’s comment that he is “feeling pretty good today.” Or, alternatively, you could have a good long talk about how this life is actually terrible.
Sure, everyone in the world could “agree to disagree” or, even worse, “agree to agree,” but what if we could “disagree to disagree”? That’s the world I want…until I decide I want to disagree with it.