As everyone knows, the Debate Forum is closing May 5th. It will be missed. I'm not sure what I will do with my spare time, but I'm thinking of taking up Magic: the Gathering. I've heard good things about the game.
Anyway, jokes aside, this forum itself isn't being deleted, and knowing that and being the sentimental type, for those that are looking back on this forum once it's archived, I would recommend reading through various topics. I've learned a lot in terms of raw knowledge and engaging people in disagreements. We had our ups and downs
When reading through, be sure to pay attention to the posts of Blinking Spirit, bLatch, Highroller, Jay13x, osieorb18, myself...ish (I always felt middling), and I am certain many others that I cannot remember at the moment. Offhand, I can't think of any particular topic to hyperlink at the moment, but I'm sure others will have favorite old topics to share.
And to be honest, I think what sums up the end of this forum best is Blinking Spirit's signature, which is why I copied it for the week, but if it's gone down the line...
Vive, vale. Siquid novisti rectius istis,
candidus inperti; si nil, his utere mecum.
Which translates to:
Farewell! and if a truer theory's thine,
Impart it candidly; if not, use mine.
-Horace, Epistles I.6.66-7.
But this isn't about me: this is for all our regular debaters (and observers) to chime in one last time.
When reading through, be sure to pay attention to the posts of Blinking Spirit, bLatch, Highroller, Jay13x, osieorb18, myself...ish (I always felt middling), and I am certain many others that I cannot remember at the moment.
Write-in vote for Tiax, who kept me honest by kicking my ass when I said something stupid.
The thing I want to instill in people is the importance of thinking. Thinking is important. We must think critically.
It is also important we find environments in which other people think critically, people who are willing to challenge our opinions and our rationale behind them, in order that we may learn, and in order that we may examine ourselves and the ideas we hold. It is through the crucible of critical thought that we must submit the ideas we hold, in order to see if they hold firm.
And it is important to remember that this is not just some abstract, esoteric philosophical practice. The benefits of intellectual discourse and philosophy are not detached from reality, not some vague, metaphysical matter that holds nothing concrete. No, the benefits are very real, very tangible, because what we believe has a profound influence upon the world. How we think governs how we act. The ideas we have govern how we behave. This is why it is very important to make sure our ideas hold up to scrutiny, that they are rooted in fact and reason and logic, that they make sense and stand up to examination, because they will inform the decisions we make, and the decisions we make had consequences.
We cannot avoid talking about the political situation in the world right now, because when people look back on this, they will do so from the perspective of someone who has already witnessed what has come to pass because of our actions, from the vantage point of someone who is living with the consequences – be they good or ill – of the decisions we made.
During the election discussion for the 2016 election, I said that elections matter, that this is the time in which you participate in a decision upon which the fate of the world depends, upon which lives hang in the balance, upon which wars may be won or lost, lives may be saved or extinguished. We will spend a long time talking about the decisions we make politically during this era, not just the United States but globally. But I want to impress one point, which is that the importance for informed decisions has never been greater, because we are in an increasingly connected world, and we can no longer pretend that the affairs of one group of people will not have an effect on us.
It is a tragedy, then, that so many people choose echo chambers. So many would rather stick to places where their own opinions are repeated back to us, instead of choosing to challenge their own opinions in intellectual discourse. Imagine, in light of this, how much different the world would be if everyone had the debate environment we had. I can say right now, we damn sure had better moderators than the presidential debates of 2016.
But that being said, this forum is also an exhortation to never be cynical. People tend to say with regards to online debates: why bother? You'll never change anyone's opinion anyway. Why even bother?
But it's not true, is it?
I looked back to try to find my first post on this forum. It was January 5, 2005. That was twelve years ago. How much have I changed? How much have my opinions and worldview changed since that day?
How many times have each of us been in a debate on this forum with someone who held a contrary view, and that person said something that changed our worldview. Maybe it was only slightly, maybe it was begrudgingly, maybe we didn’t realize it at first and it hit us by surprise only later, in a conversation with someone else. But we were changed. However slightly, our eyes were opened to a truth we hadn’t considered before. Maybe one we would have never considered otherwise. We became wiser.
You never know whose mind you’ll change. You never know how your words will make an impact. How many of us have been changed as a result of reading a conversation between two people, neither of whom were us? How many of us realized it at the time? You never know how much of an impact your words will have, nor will you always realize the impact of the words of others. This is especially true for us. We're faceless people on the internet. I've never met anyone here, or maybe I have, I don't know. But I have been changed by the people here.
You will not always change everyone's worldview. You will not always change someone else's opinion. This is true. You cannot change the mind of the other person.
But your mind might change. And that can mean all the difference in the world.
Your thoughts matter. Your words matter. You matter. Let yourself be challenged, because that is how you grow, that is how you become better and more sure of yourself, and you owe it to yourself to be the best person that you can be.