GRE Issue Essay 38

“Progress is best made through discussion among people who have contrasting points of view.”

It is always a good thing to have a healthy discussion wherein people have contrasting points of view. Such a discussion enables everyone participating in the discussion to address the issue from the perspective of the others. However, can you force someone else to agree to your viewpoint? On the contrary, how many times have you agreed with the viewpoint of the other person or have you ever agreed that you are wrong and that the other person is right? We as humans always try to stick to our viewpoint and rarely admit that we are wrong. Therefore, can a discussion among people with contrasting points of view proceed in the right direction? It is true that everyone will learn something new as he sees the issue from a different angle, but it would be wrong to assume that such a discussion can actually lead to progress and that this would be the best way to make progress. On the contrary, it is very rare to make progress in the right direction when the participants of a discussion do not see eye to eye with each other on the issue being discussed.

Consider the example of a committee that has been constituted to work out the modalities for the implementation of a publicity campaign. What do you expect will happen if the members of the committee have contrasting viewpoints on the method to be adopted for the publicity campaign? If the members of the committee do not agree to a common method for the launch of the publicity campaign, how can one expect the details of the campaign to be worked out? The members of the committee who are of the view that spending money on advertising in the print media is a total wastage of money will definitely oppose those who think that the print media is as important as the television media. Each member will try his best to criticize the viewpoint of the other members in a bid to defend his own viewpoint. The discussion can progress further only if all members agree on a common method and then only can the other details be worked out.

There can be no progress if the participants of the discussion stick to their viewpoints which are in stark contrast to those of the others. Such a discussion would lead to total chaos and wastage of time. The only solution lies in either forcing some of the participants to agree to the viewpoints of the others or finding a solution that both parties agree to. Isn’t this always the best method to steer a discussion in a direction that will lead to progress? We have always heard of cases wherein discussions were fruitful because the participants either agreed on an issue unanimously or found a common ground where everyone agreed.

Whenever a discussion goes out of hand, the person chairing the discussion opts for carrying out voting to arrive at the solution which is agreed to by a majority of the participants. This is done because it is certain that a discussion cannot progress in the right direction if the participants have contrasting points of view.