Tuesday’s Realty Check
Something More than Talking Points
Talking Point – In debate or discourse, a succinct statement designed to persuasively support one side taken on an issue. Such statements can either be free standing or created as retorts to the opposition’s talking points. (Wikipedia)
Hi, my name is Tim and I am an information wonk. Maybe it was my formative years as the only child left at home with books as my best friends that made me that way. Or perhaps I just think I have to know something about everything. Whatever the cause, I know I am not a former information junkie but rather a current one who is beginning to learn to make it through each 24 hour period without the need to have an opinion (or at least share it unless asked).
It always gets harder to fight the urge to tell other people how stupid they are around election time. Surely they have access to the same information I do. Surely, they aren’t so mentally challenged they can’t connect dot A with dot B and at least see the big picture. But alas, to my utter amazement, not everyone sees things the way I do.
I’ve made a peace with this conundrum. But what I can’t accept is people I know that are smarter than I am resorting to talking points, whether it comes to politics or theology, to explain the decisions they make. Merriam-Webster defines a talking point as “something that lends support to an argument” but that comes short of defining the term by modern day standards. To explain why talking points get under my skin, I first offer an illustration.
Since she follows my Facebook Page and I think she is a great individual, I will leave this person nameless. She already knows that I can have an extended adult conversation with someone I differ with because we had just that recently. But when she indicated she could not vote for Mitt Romney the other day, I asked her what bothered her about the man as a candidate. Without hesitation her first two reasons were talking points:
Reason One – Because he bullied a gay person in high school.
Reason Two – Because he made his dog ride in a cage on top of his car one time.
I challenged her on this, not because we disagreed on politics (which we did), but because I was amazed a person with her intelligence and profession found it so easy to pull out those two talking points to buttress her argument. No mention of anything about the man now. No mention of his policies, record as governor of Massachusetts, or current campaign statements. Just a disputable incident from 40 some odd years ago and his dog. Talking points.
In defense of this person, as we talked further, she slowly began to offer more thoughtful and obviously logical reasons for her stand. I still didn’t agree with her but at least she threw off the talking points and told me what SHE believed. Not SOMEONE else! We ceased being people talking at each other and became two people talking to each other.
Not only is it no secret that I’m opinionated, it’s also no secret that I am a Christian. So let me address this talking point issue directly at believers. How much of what you say to others is little more than talking points? It isn’t so much that what you believe is false as that it isn’t yours. Truth is truth whether you thought it through or not. But truth expressed as talking points has the same effect as bringing up that dog on Mitt Romney’s car. It comes across as forced, canned, memorized, and even fabricated. In other words speaking in talking points can even take things that are true and make them sound bogus.
Are you ever guilty of giving the quick answer about something without thinking through the impact of those words? When you have a conversation with someone you know differs with you do you throw out talking points or do you speak from genuine conviction and careful consideration?