Point Counterpoint and the Loss of Civility

In debate circles point counterpoint was the well-crafted method that Aldous Huxley used in his 1928 novel Point Counterpoint. I highly recommend it if you want some mental stimulation.

Sadly, the civility of yesterday would be missing today in such fiery exchanges. Today people who hold extreme positions do not want to listen to a counterpoint since they view their point as sacrosanct.

People are entitled to their opinions even if they defy logic and rational thought.  Of course, the opinions we hold dear and precious are always true based on our belief system.

I was scanning the web recently and came across someone who was laying out the reasons that the observance of Christmas was worshipping at the forest altars of paganism.  Instead of the adoring angel or star on top of the tree, you had the seductive nymphs with their siren songs.

I think he was a bit confused between forest nymphs and mermaids.  Perhaps, reading Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses would aid him in future presentations, but he would feel such works of antiquity to be rubbish.

I have heard these shopworn arguments and reasons for decades. They are like a bad needle on a worn record on the gramophone.

Did it change my mind or belief about Christmas—no.  I know individuals who cling to every word this presenter utters, although his children seem to know better than to listen to their dad who is a self-proclaimed preacher with his unfounded tangents about Christmas, women, science, lifestyle, etc.

The point is that in today’s culture point and counterpoint is an exercise in futility.  It achieves nothing except increased stress between individuals and groups where common ground is as lost as the legendary Atlantis of Plato.

Politics, religion and even the weather are subjects today which can ruin a friendship, break a family bond, disrupt a workplace or cause a schism in a religious community. Civility, friendship and love are the casualties.

In college Steve and Earl, two very bright theologically inclined students, always wanted to pull me into their debates with fellow students about the nature of the cosmos and our place in its infinite structure.  They felt if I was on their side they could never lose.

At the time my ego may have appreciated their exalted view of my intellectual prowess since I was “a bit” arrogant until a young lady by the name of Jennifer put me in my place as we were walking in Arizona one hot August day. During the conversation I was waxing elegant about myself until she told me to put a sock in it.  Of course, she was a bit more direct.

Sophisticated banter may be an element of intellectual sharpening.  It rarely accomplishes a lofty goal or change of course.

In summary engaging in debate with individuals who have no inclination to consider alternate facts or views as valid is a waste of time.  Instead of engaging in such frivolity, having a cup of Earl Grey and reading a good book with a lovely piece of music in the background would better serve one’s intellectual needs as well as benefiting their blood pressure…

Silence is as full of potential wisdom and wit as the unhewn marble of great sculpture. The silent bear no witness against themselves.”  Point Counterpoint

G. D. Williams       © 2019

POST 789

Point Counterpoint by Aldous Huxley




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