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Dealing with losing a debate

By Anindita Chanda

Section: Opinions

November 11, 2016

Earlier this week, we found out the fate of our country, of our people, of ourselves, for the next four years. Although, I suppose if you are reading this right now, we are either trying to find shelter in Canada (what up, Trudeau!) or we are smiling through gritted teeth and going about our days in good ole ‘Murica. But with all of the hype that is going on (or rather, has occurred) with people concerning themselves about who is going to win the presidential election, I feel as though many of us lost sight of some of the other important issues that we also may have voted for.

To be fully honest, most of us are probably not well informed on some of the things we voted on in our state of residence. Some of us may have had our reasons for voting either “yes” or “no” but probably could not hold our ground if we were to debate our positions with someone opposing us. Late last week, I was not able to hold my ground in a debate, and I had already voted (through early voting process). Now, is writing this article my way of compensating for the fact that I lost the debate? Maybe. But what I want to emphasize is that every four years we get the chance to vote not only to contribute our input on who we think should lead our country, but also on important matters such as marijuana legalization or authorization of new charter schools. In fact, both marijuana legalization and charter school authorization appear on the Massachusetts ballot.

Now here’s the truth: For many of us who are first-time voters, we may be heavily influenced by how adults around us will vote. They have their justifications for why they are voting a certain way, but we should not necessarily use their justifications as our own reasoning for voting. Of course, if we are able to validate why we agree with our guardian’s vote, then that is perfectly fine.

The other situation in which we may not be able to hold our ground about how we voted is if we looked at the problems superficially and did not question things further, did not dig deeper or did not reflect back on the past and imagine the future. Unfortunately, it is the second scenario that I can relate to.

Upon having a friendly mini-debate with a peer about why I voted a certain way for a particular question, it quickly occurred to me that I was ill-informed. What is more, I only had superficial knowledge on that particular issue and did not bother to learn more about it, because I thought I was right. Hence the beauty of debating. Without asking questions, without having our thoughts being challenged and challenging thoughts of others, we will never be able to confidently understand the matters at hand that will affect us in our near future. So yes, I lost that debate, but I did learn a very valuable lesson, and I hope in four years I will be able to vote for the types of questions on the ballot that I had neglected to learn more about—the questions that, in fact, will affect us everyday citizens more directly.

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