To Argue with Love

Right now I am so suffocated by my Facebook newsfeed. Here in the Philippines, we have just buried Ferdinand Marcos, a former president who’s very infamous for corruption and human rights violation at our National Heroes’ Cemetery. There’s a cyber-war going on between the pro and the anti, and the results are not good so far. The initial intention of our President Rodrigo Duterte is to mend the gap between the staunch supporters of the Marcoses and the Martial Law victims and their sympathizers. So far, that goal is light years away from being attained. More and more people are joining in the ranks, and Facebook and Twitter, which happened to be avenues for socialization, have become the medium for cyber bullies and fake news to thrive.

Over the past years, we have been witnessing more and more people getting involved in politics, religion, and other critical topics, and even those millennials who once concerned themselves mainly with selfies and at-the-moment photos are now very active in voicing out their opinions on matters which they never even bothered to concern themselves with five years ago. Are we progressing? That depends. For those who think that millennials are vain, then this is a good thing. For the others who want a peaceful, more relaxed newsfeed, then it’s bad. But how can we share our opinions and interact, even argue with a person online, be attained through peaceful and respectful means? The answer is not easy, and it took me so long, and it needed the help of my girlfriend for me to figure it out somehow.

Most of those who know me see me as a very argumentative person. I can be seen posting thought-provoking articles and insights instead of uploading the photos of the last tourist destination I visited and our couple selfie during our most recent date. But I’ll bet nobody knows that my girlfriend and I also wage verbal wars on one another due to our contrasting view on a specific subject. Usually it’s about leaving a person alone and bringing to light his mental and moral lapses. I always choose the latter, while my girlfriend asserts the former. And that’s the reason why we argue a lot. But that’s not all. We, as a couple, are known to be complete opposites: she loves hanging around with other people; I like to be left alone. She is an early bird, while I am a night owl (it’s 1am right now). She loves taking pictures during trips; I consider them distraction from fully engaging in the present moment. I could go on and on.

So how do we argue, and how do we maintain a healthy, loving relationship despite of our contrasting beliefs? The answer is quite simple, and we have heard it being said so many times before: Do it in love. Whenever we argue, what usually happens is I would get mad at first and then she would apologize. She cries on occasion, although right now I’ve figured out that it’s her technique to disarm me, because I have noticed that I become defensive whenever she hits a nerve. Well, sometimes it’s because of my pride, and I haven’t found the humility to remove the “sometimes” yet. Then I would have the stage to my own for a time. She would just listen to what I have to say, and when I am done, she would pretend to agree with me on everything I’ve previously said. But guys, remember this: a woman never forgets. So when she sees that I have become relaxed, then she would assert her views on the subject which we argued about just a while ago. At that time, I would have become more receptive. Then we would consider things from each other’s perspective. After that, what usually happens is that we will agree on something.

Sometimes, the end result is that we still do not agree on the subject that we argued upon previously. When that happens, we just let it slide. But if it’s very critical that we agree on one thing, then one of us would compromise his views just to accommodate the other. Usually it is I who give way to her; remember the saying that a woman is always right? After all, I love her, and I don’t want her to cry again over something. Our relationship is more important than my need to be right. You might not agree with me on this, but when the time comes for you to need the help of the person you once fought with, this will be very helpful.

It’s actually very simple. But I tell you, one can know this by theory by heart and yet fail to apply it when the time comes. I cannot urge any Clinton supporter to love and compromise for the sake of Trump’s, but in the end we have got to realize that those on the other camp are also humans, just like us. How we wish that the other party would just apologize and acknowledge our point. But how rarely that happens, if at all. And I also believe that nobody has got it all right, while the other is all wrong. More often than not, the options that we have are both evil, and we are not even one in deciding which is the lesser evil. Sometimes, we may have to just shut our mouth even if we think we are right. The thing is, for a defensive person, anything we say is wrong. But for a person who’s felt our respect and love, anything we say will be heard and considered. So let us argue in love. After all, even if we argue with an eloquence of an angel, if we do not do it in love, our voice will not have any difference with the sound of the creaking of a rusty gate to an infuriated enemy.

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