Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What Ever Happened to the Sweet Science?

from "The Bells of St. Mary's"

My friend and I were talking about fighting the other day. It began as a discussion as to when is the right time to tell one's child to fight -- to "throw down," in order to free himself from bullying or torment. We didn't come to an over-arching conclusion. But we did wander into talking about an older film; I think it was The Bells of St. Mary's, with Bing Crosby -- not sure. In it, the priest in charge (Bing) breaks up a fight between two boys. He then makes them put on the gloves and duke it out in the ring. With rules. With order.

Again, I'm not even sure how I feel about that -- about encouraging the boys to fight at all. Part of me thinks that's the whole point of civilization: to control, but not to eradicate human nature. Another part of me thinks fighting is something we need to rise above as a species. But I think, in the end, I might lean toward putting on the gloves when necessary.

Lately I have been listening to and reading arguments regarding all sorts of political and social things. It occurred to me that we could use some gloves and a ring. A referee helps, too, sometimes.

We really need to get a hold of ad hominem in our culture. Everywhere I turn, I hear name-calling (something I thought most of us learned to leave behind in the playground dust) and vicious attack on individuals. Verbal street fights. Left or right, neither side is exempt from blame in this.

We need to argue like gentlemen and gentlewomen if we are going to get anywhere. That's the point of an argument; right -- to get to the truth and to move minds? It's not to leave the other guy bleeding to death in a gutter; it's to change his mind, or, at least, to score points with the judges and the audience.

I'm feeling low about this. I'm watching people, everywhere, from friends to internet-ranters trying to scratch each other's eyes out with their fingernails. Please, put on the gloves, people. Step in to the ring. You're supposed to be able to shake hands when it is all over.

The ugliness and what it reveals about people he knows, both well and not-so-well is getting pretty unbearable for this humble blogger.

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