Why We Argue

Nov 21, 2020
One of my favorite books is “How To Argue And Win Every Time”. It’s been one of my favorite, delicious reads for over 15 years. But not for the reasons you’d think.
The author is nationally renowned cowboy attorney Gerry Spence. He is an expert in the courtroom and a phenomenal writer. He outlines the ins and outs of what to see, and what to hear, in a trial. He gives insight and direction into the angles of the fight.
But not in the way you would imagine.
You see, it is all based on two premises.
Why we fight
Who we should never fight
To me those principles are captivating. He spends much of the beginning pages - almost from word one - excavating why we fight. He compares fighting to breathing; that our gasping for breath is the assertion of will. We breathe because we fight for more oxygen. We live because we fight. We grow because we fight. And if we ever lose our will to fight, then we have truly lost.
The way he strains the notes and weaves the concepts entrances me like a child following the Pied Piper. I am not only compelled to fight harder for my life and faith, but I also realize the fight of The Other.
We fight because we are invested. We fight because we are pushed and pulled and drawn out by hard things. We fight because we have wounds. We fight because of injustice. We fight because it determines our very souls.
And then he winds through the yellowing pages to a place where that message shifts.
He talks about The Other being his sweetheart. The Other in his heart and home. He talks of struggle and conflict and compromise with The Other - and teaches gracefully that there is also surrender. Not surrender as in a deflating of oneself, but surrender in awe of relationship. Powerful.
We all feel this.
Whether it is our child or our spouse or our neighbor whom we come to know as ourselves, there are boundaries of the fight, much like ropes in the octagon of a sparring match. There are places we should never bring the fight - or at least places where the fight becomes a handshake - a respectful bow to a worthy opponent out of honor. We then fight for the relationship.
If his text indicated you should win at all cost, I surely would have jettisoned the book years ago. Instead, I have referred hundreds to it and treasured it like I would a map of Yellowstone, returning over and over again to relive the pines and the colorful steaming pots. It reminds me that I must fight.
I must fight for my life in a pandemic. I must fight for my sanity and connection. I must fight for my freedom to worship, to vote, to speak, to read, to hear, to make a living, and to gather. I must fight for my right to protect myself. And I will always fight for humanity and our God-given value.
And, I will fight for relationships with The Others. It is not an either/or.
Some may question my values or my drive. They are compelled to spar. In their fight against me - I smile. As they lace up their gloves and enter the ring, I recognize they too are gasping for breath. They too must fight.
I bow to my opponent.
If we must fight, we fight. And if we must surrender, so it is.
But we fight because of the beating hearts inside our chests.
Were it not so we would be consumed by a world as harsh as this one.