Endgames, Boats Rising, & With What You Have
William F. Buckley Jr. debating with Gore Vidal about the Vietnam War.
A Shared Endgame For Both Debating And Writing
When you debate or write persuasively, you’re not debating according to current standards and mores, you’re debating against the future knowledge base of mankind.
Gore Vidal died recently. A gay man, he was considered an extreme liberal by many in his era. But if modern conservatives were to look at the transcripts of his debates with William F. Buckley Jr., they might be surprised how much more often they agree with the “liberal” Gore.
Times change. Access to knowledge changes. Social standards change.
In the long run, it’s not who “wins” a debate today that matters, it’s whose ideas endure after the tests of time. Shakespeare knew that principle. A reason Shakespeare remains relevant is his ideas were so far ahead of his time – universal. What is unbelievable is how often Shakespeare had the good sense to not write about commonly held beliefs that later proved to be untrue – even with 400 years of hindsight.
Debating is often not about persuading the person with whom you are arguing; rather, it is about possibly persuading others listening in – now and in years to come.
Do All The Boats Rise?
Controversial things tend to be those things that cause some boats to rise and others to sink. When in doubt, don’t be too zealous about the actions or ideologies that cause some boats to rise and others to sink. Instead, consider giving more weight to the actions and ideologies that help all boats (or as many boats as possible) rise.
With What You Have
An approach anyone can take to the beginning of their day or their endeavors is this:
How much blessing and goodness can I create and bring into being from the limited resources and opportunities at my disposal?
If you have great opportunities and resources at the ready, then you should be transforming them into great things for yourself and others.