In the heat of a debate, the fall back argument was thrown into the arena. “You know, there are those that say…”
“Who are they?”
“They are not important, their point is.”
I am not sure how you would react, however I doubt that our reactions are that different. Who are the “they” in this discussion? Are they real people or fictional characters? Do these individuals have names or just views? If they are real, why are they not willing to stand and face the questioners?
The fact that weak arguments are thrown on the table should not catch anyone by surprise. Individuals with an agenda have used this technique for centuries. A view is submitted without hard evidence. To challenge the source is to question another’s integrity. We never want to assume that another is acting dishonestly, so the opinion is given substance and authority.
In short, we forget that everyone is human. Challenging is a personal affront rather than a drive to know and understand.
In our drive to achieve a goal, even a good one, process gives way to outcome. The ends, goal, justifies the means, anything we might need to say or do.
There is a way to deal when others use this card. One man’s response captures the technique. “Ask these others what crime they’ve caught me in. Don’t let them hide behind this smooth-talking Tertullus.” (Acts 24.20) Go beyond the third person and let the testimony come from those present.
The greater challenge is when the technique is one I use. I know my intent. I believe it is honorable. I understand what is at stake. Without throwing the first stone, since I am looking at myself, let me suggest the following.
Life is a process, not an outcome.
Life is about living and being true to your soul, not an objective.
List is about telling others yours story, and listening to their story.
Life is an opportunity to be real in the first person. It is about candidness and living with the risk that comes with the conversation.