I believe that arguing can be a good thing.
I remember the first time I got into a heated political debate with a friend. It was my freshman year of high school, and President Bush had just announced that we might invade Iraq. My friend Erin and I had our last period class together, and as the day wound down, we began discussing current events. She was firmly convinced that an invasion was the right step for our nation, and I was just as firmly opposed to the idea of war. Soon, what had begun as chit-chat about the news turned into a full-scale debate, to the point where we began to raise our voices at one another. As the bell rang and we were forced to disperse, I left the classroom angry, still formulating counter-arguments in my mind.
Over the course of the next few days, I researched the situation further, so that by the time the President announced to the nation that we were indeed going to invade Iraq, my opinion was more fully formed. My personal political ideology was not complete at the time, but I had realized that I was extremely interested in politics and foreign policy. That one argument was a catalyst for my high school experience, from my involvement in activities to my choice of university. I joined the debate team and in it found a place where I could express and defend my opinions passionately. When I was researching colleges, I based my choices on what I wanted to study- International Affairs, which took me all the way from Chicago here to Washington D.C.
Ever since that first argument, debating about politics with classmates has allowed me to explore my personal beliefs, to be inquisitive, to research topics more fully, and to learn to actually listen to what people are saying. I still debate about current events with Erin, because even though we both know that neither of us is going to change the others mind, we enjoy the challenge of our discussions.
I do not always view my argumentative personality as an asset. In fact, I came to college promising myself not to be so outwardly intense and forceful about contentious issues. But since it is at the forefront of my personality, the debater in me has manifested itself in daily life with my friends here as well as in the classroom: I had a 40-minute debate with my Proseminar professor on whether or not universal human rights exist.
So, while most would consider being ‘argumentative’ a negative quality, I believe that it is one of my most valuable characteristics.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.