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Cecil Hartley wrote; “Speech is the gift which distinguishes man from animals, and makes society possible.” Human beings will have differences in opinion because we are neither omniscient nor omnipresent. A gentlemen is characterized by his desire to be polite and respect the opinions and feelings of other people. He maintains his objectivity because he uses the revelations of God as his rule and guide of thoughts and morality.

We see a dangerous trend in America today where individuals no longer debate ideas, rather, they attack individuals as human beings. When they attack the individual they demonstrate the critical thinking errors of emotional thinking and dehumanization. The attackers revert to attacking individuals because the attacker knows they lack sound reason and are losing the debate with the person they attack. Emotionality, even when correct, never influences people. It is noble to have political opinions. It is uncivil to endeavor to force others to agree with you. God gave each of us free will. God also gave us the gift of reason to sift ideas.

If we desire a civil and peaceful society, the art of debate must be exercised by calmly listening to one another’s opinions. Boldly discuss ideas, and when differences in opinion occur, politely disagree with one another, and remain amiable gentlemen with one another. The study of history, reason and experience will prove the validity of the idea.

Rev. David P. Kenat Jr.

Anglican priest

Billings

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