Friday, 15 November 2013

On the Joy of Argument.


You should not feel that argument is wrong,
but welcome it with open arms.
For what is better than to act
with impulse on your instinct and to pitch
your mind against your fellows'?  So go
from here into this world and start a row


with anyone. Demonstrate to them how they could grow,
if only their own thinking were not wrong.
Show them how, not all that long ago,
you thought like them, but loud alarms
kept sounding in your mind, and their shrill pitch
drove you to see the error of your ways. Act


as if upon a mission to persuade.  Question every 'fact'
and champion the cause of change.  Row
against the tide, certainty the pitch
that keeps the vessel of your argument afloat. It's wrong
to keep storms raging all the day, let them go
when you have said all you can say.  For this disarms


and opens up opponents' minds for change, pre-warms
the oven of their heads, to ideas you've put forth.  Have tact
and if, later, they quote your words, which, not so long ago
they had dismissed, relax, for this is how we grow.
Concentrate on finding other ways in which they're wrong
and challenge them on these, for what is better than to pitch


your wits against one you know can change.  Tell them black as pitch
is white as snow; see how far this argument can go. Take up arms
and thrust and tilt at windmills, making out they're wrong.
Demonstrate there's little that is fact.
Ideas which most others hold as good, will not go
easily away, so javelin like,  you must throw


your complex thoughts which undermine.  Show no sorrow,
for rugs are meant for pulling from under feet, to pitch
those standing on them where they choose not to go.
And there is little one can say that really harms
for very long, but the impact
of the fall might smart a while, as your fellows must adjust to being wrong.


Pitch a battle, question fact,
take up arms, don't let go,
start tomorrow, everyone else is wrong.


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