I was discussing poetry with a friend of mine and she sent me this short poem, which I instantly adored.
He tells her
He tells her that the earth is flat
He knows the facts, and that is that
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong
But he has learned to argue well
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell
She cannot win, he stands his ground
The planet goes on being round.
I found that it resonated strongly with me, bringing memories of debates with characters that I’m sure everyone has met at some point in time.
The phrase ‘immoveable object vs unstoppable force’ comes to mind at times when conversing with these characters, and that last sentence is the part which really sings to me in this very short, to the point, poem about debating with someone who is unable to conceive of the idea that they might be wrong.
“The planet goes on being round.”
The knowledge that the truth does not bend to the determination of the electively deaf is both reassuring and highly amusing to me. It reminds me that the reality of the situation does not depend on my ability to teach somebody else to use their ears, and that they can choose to remain ignorant if they choose. It simply isn’t my concern.
It also helps to ease the frustration that you inevitably feel when faced with somebody who has honed their debating skills far more than their critical thinking. I have read this poem over and over until I am convinced that I could recite it backwards; a skill which may come in useful in maintaining my composure in certain unfortunately inevitable circumstances.
There is another important point to be heard in this poem; It is not only a balm to the eternally frustrated, but a reminder to us all to listen to the person we are debating with. A conversation is not a conversation if both sides are only interested in swaying their counterpart to their own viewpoint, disregarding the possibility that they may learn something themselves from that conversation.
“When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
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