Feudin’ and Fussin’ and A-Fightin’
There are probably at least 17 gazillion reasons why folks get into arguments. Unfortunately none of them are very valid.
Here’s what I mean.
Let’s take a look at the base word first. My super-duper dictionary defines “argue” as: “To present reasons for or against a thing”. OK, so the word “thing” leaves a little to be desired but I can translate that to mean an opinion or concept. No problem. To me then, “argue” is a good, logical word that simply means stating your side of a case and presenting valid reasons why you feel your point of view is more logical than those of another person. It’s part of a discussion that can hopefully result in at least concurrence if not total agreement.
“Argument” to me however, holds a different and generally more severe connotation. When I hear the word “argument”, I have a tendency to picture a verbal fight. A battle to determine a victor. A war of words meant to lay waste to an opponent’s opinions or even feelings. And that bothers me.
Maybe arguments sometimes start because one or both of the parties involved have not yet realized that life is filled with gray areas – shadings of truth. They may be trudging through their earthly existence firmly convinced that everything must be either black or white. Truth or falsehood. Right or wrong. Winners or losers. Let’s face it. Nobody wants to be a loser. Therefore it becomes imperative that we protect our self-esteem by fighting to “win” an argument with everything we can muster. It’s a matter of ego survival.
Sometimes we argue to protect a lie – one that we have verbalized to another person or even one that we have perhaps inadvertently told our self related to a situation or event. Again, to protect our ego, it’s mandatory that we put a bunch of effort – not to mention creativity and volume – into our discussion.
There are times too, when arguments seem to just evolve out of what started out to be a little clarifying chat. When a bit of encouragement to try to remember to put the toilet seat down when we’re finished transitions into a full-blown shouting match over what Uncle Harry really meant by his smart-assed comment at your grandmother’s funeral. And when are you going to get that damned piece-of-shit car off the front lawn anyway!!? You get the idea.
The result of any full-blown, confrontational argument of course, is that there are no winners. Only flared tempers, hurt feelings and a heightened dislike for the total idiot you’ve had the misfortune to know in the first place. Sure, things may cool back down after a while – maybe a long while. But there are times that a piddling disagreement turned confrontational has completely shattered a relationship. What a pity!
And what a shame it is that the people that we should be the closest to – our family and friends – are commonly the ones most likely to be involved in these arguments. Yeah, it’s probably due in large part to the basic fact that these are the folks we spend the most time with and with whom we have the strongest emotional ties - along with financial arrangements and sharing of physical space. There will naturally be then, a greater chance for disagreements or differences of opinion. It’s just the way it is.
So… is there anything we can do to help minimize the possibility of verbal fisticuffs? Here are a few of old Gene’s suggestions:
Recognize that everyone has what they believe are valid reasons for their opinions – and that they have as much of a right to their opinions as you do.
Take the time to listen – really listen – and understand the other person’s point of view. There may be some logic there that you may have overlooked.
We can not force anyone else to think or believe as we do – no matter how loudly we shout. We should not try control another’s thoughts or actions. Only influence them.
Very few things in this world are truly black or white, right or wrong. Put forth the effort to see the grays – the “truths” that lie somewhere in between.
Stick to the subject at hand. Don’t dredge up old situations or feelings to use as leverage to try to force the other person into a submissive position. The past is gone. Leave it alone.
If you feel the anger starting to surge, back off for awhile. Collect your thoughts and bring your emotions back under control. You may come to realize that this is something that just isn’t worth fussing about.
Take a second to make sure your potential discussion isn’t being prompted by your being tired, cranky or just not feeling well.
Be honest with yourself. Is there a possibility that an argument on a subject is developing because you are actually upset about something else and need to vent? Shouting about a spill on the rug isn’t going to help solve a suspicion of spousal infidelity.
Sure, there are lots of times in our life when we need to discuss “things” that concern us. Discussion (productive arguing) is good and can be extremely beneficial. Feudin’ and fussin’ and a fightin’ is usually a total waste of time and energy. I have better things to do. How about you?
By the way… if the title of this piece seems somewhat familiar to a few of the older folks, it is taken from the song “Feudin’ and Fightin’”, recorded in 1947 by Dorothy Shay, Jo Stafford and Bing Crosby – all on separate labels. Of course, I’m much too young to actually remember having heard it…
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