Do I have the right to disagree with you?

This is my favorite second question when deciding whether or not to debate with someone. My first question is, do you believe that there is objective truth, and if so, an opinion based on truth is more valid than an opinion not based on truth? If you get a negative answer to either part of that question, you can explore that question and their answer more deeply, or walk away and spare yourself considerable frustration. Most people, when confronted with such questions this directly, will agree with both parts of the question, but they might also believe that their opinion is based on truth and that those who disagree are stupid, evil, ignorant or liars. My second question, the title, will get at this attitude indirectly, since most people are not willing to call you to your face stupid, evil, ignorant or a liar. How many people, including the most smug, self righteous, or close minded, would say you have no right to disagree (even if they believe that)?

Now you can hope for a rational discussion or debate, until you “hit a nerve”, “wound a sacred cow”, or “touch the third rail” of their beliefs. Love those metaphors! At that point, their demeanor will generally change, and rationality will fly away, usually replaced by anger and accusations. Keep cool, suppress the instinct to defend yourself or counterattack. Just listen, say nothing until they have vented. A useful question to ask at this point is, ” and what else?” That may draw the rest of their issues out. Am I too optimistic that my opposition will be willing to engage? Sometimes they will sometimes they won’t. I personally don’t have a vested interest in being right, only getting to the truth. There is no shame in saying, “I am wrong”, or “I don’t know.” However, I never try to engage via social media of any kind, or text messaging, or email. Those media of communication are not favorable to rationality or in depth debate.

I don’t get much disagreement in my verbal interactions, and only a little in blog comments, but I used to, before I mastered the ideas above. Now to the most important point. Techniques will make you seem smart, and might score enough points to win the debate, but techniques will never reach the other person’s heart. Maybe nothing will, but this is for sure: The starting point of a worthy debate is searching your own heart, seeing clearly inward before you can see clearly outward. The Lord said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” Luke 6:41-42.

The E.U.’s imperialist ambition. Allies in name only.

From TheFederalist, May 23, 2019: Dr. Yoram Hazony, the philosopher and author of the conservative bestseller, “The Virtue of Nationalism,” says, a “future conflict between the EU and United States is almost inevitable. The EU is already a German-dominated empire, he said, but one that has cleverly managed to toss the continent’s entire security burden to American taxpayers, even when it has spent a record amount of 23 billion Euros on welfare for refugees.

“Because American policymakers and taxpayers, either due to misguided optimism, delusion, or naivete, do not see what the EU is slowly morphing into, Germany can carry on the coercive imperium, but without the burden of paying for it and providing all the manpower. Hazony noted this is unsustainable. As the EU consolidates, and U.S. power and control over the EU declines, the EU will inevitably chart its own path, and side with U.S. adversaries.

“With regards to the EU, and other threats, the changes in the United States are structural as well. ‘It turns out that President Trump is more reliable for conservatives than the Bushes or John Major,’ Hazony said. ‘You don’t have to agree with everything he says. But on the big things, we’ve learned that Trump is willing to stand up to China and the European Union, which is much more than can be said of previous conservative leaders. And he’s willing to aggressively safeguard the religious traditions of his nation in the face of a no-holds-barred onslaught by progressives. These are things we haven’t seen before.” There’s hope. While it is easy to imagine Trump as an aberration, he is probably not, as the global direction returns to Westphalian norms of nation-states, as opposed to a transnational globalism, is evident from Brasilia to Brighton, Mumbai to Melbourne.” The United States always seems to lag in awareness of real threats. Perhaps that’s because we trust too much in our power, though in the case of faux allies (former allies—when they needed us) like the EU, it’s because our self styled elites have a vested interest in continuing to pretend they are still allies and not competitors.

“There will obviously be a liberal backlash,” Hazony said. “The control of the political culture by the liberal establishment is deeply entrenched, and it will take time to restore a real two-party democracy in which conservatives have legitimate place in the public sphere.” Nowhere will it be more visible than the capitals of conservative countries, with heavily funded liberal groups and losing electorates engaging in “resistance,” whether in Europe or the United States. But the institutional and financial support for conservative rethinking and revival is coming, even when the movement in this direction is still terribly slow.” We can see this happening all over.

”As predicted, it will lead to a clash of ideas between one side that believes in borders and nation-states (which doesn’t prevent cooperation between different nations), and the other side believes in an ever-consolidating, borderless liberal march, destroying every single nation and its individual character. ‘Independent nations cannot co-exist with a liberal imperialism that is unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of national independence and national borders,’ Hazony noted.” I read some Bible passages this morning that spoke to me about borders and the blessing of (some) immigrants. It was Solomon’s prayer, after moving the tables of the Ten Commandments into the just completed temple of the Lord. While he is praying specifically about the kingdom of Israel and not the United States, here’s what I believe is applicable: use of the word “foreigner” legitimizes the concept of borders, and Solomon is asking the Lord to bless the prayers of an immigrant in the same way as he asked the Lord to bless the prayers of his own children. This prayer is not for foreigners in general, but only for those who came to Israel because they loved the Lord and wanted to live under His protection. We say “God bless America” without giving God His due, but I harbor the hope that those who say those words will seek God, and that immigrants will do the same.

“….then hear from heaven your dwelling place and forgive and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways, for you, you only, know the hearts of the children of mankind, that they may fear you and walk in your ways all the days that they live in the land that you gave to our fathers. Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays toward this house, hear from heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.” 2 Chronicles 6:30-33.