Keeping the debates balanced, respectful

When people get negative and personal, it adds very little to the debate

How we ourselves engage conversations will affect their quality

Play the ball and not the player…” is a phrase anyone who has played soccer knows well. When the player focuses on the ball rather than the opponent, good and clean tackles are made, fewer hurts and injuries occur and the game is a lot more enjoyable for the spectators.

It seems that at this time in our history there is more than usual at play, in terms of issues to be discussed and resolved, at many levels of community — locally, nationally and globally.  This is magnified during times when there are elections and other important debates in progress.  Playing the ball and not the player is a piece of sporting advice that can and should be considered for all who engage in debate, private or public.  Too often, it seems, we are quicker to take aim at the person or people whose views we oppose, than we are to actually debate the sides of the issue at hand.

One might respond that keeping the debates of the day respectful and balanced  is the responsibility of others – those in positions of power and authority, or those vying for them, or those in the “back room” who give advice, or the media.  However, the responsibility for fair play really lies squarely with us, the readers, the voters, the members of which ever community’s future is at stake.

Our response to players playing the player rather than the ball (i.e. negative advertising, personal attacks, name calling etc.) is what  determines the ongoing level of the discourse.  How we ourselves engage in the conversations will also affect their quality.

May I make some practical suggestions for a better quality of dialogue:

1. When you hear someone becoming personal about those with whom they disagree, register your distaste, refuse to listen, walk away if necessary.



2.  When people do go negative and personal, insist that they talk about what they are for, rather than who they are against.



3.  Become a part of the solution rather than adding to the problem, by modeling respectful dialogue and constructive critique in your own conversations.



4.  Accept that those with whom you disagree also desire what is good for their community and for the world;  rather than disparage their motives look for what is good in their views and seek common ground on which to build consensus.



All of this may be helpful for the smoother running of our secular affairs, however there is an important spiritual element to it as well. Wherever people are in terms of faith, it can surely be appreciated that the words we use can be and are hurtful to those who are their targets.  When we hurt and disparage others for our own purposes, we are being destructive of something or someone else’s dignity and worth.  It is as if we are trampling over a bed of flowers or spoiling a pristine environment.


“All of creation yearns for the revealing of the children of God” wrote St. Paul in reference to the gift of the indwelling of God’s spirit of life in us; we have within us the capacity and the calling to be agents of harmony and cooperation in creation and that includes the ways in which we treat each other.



May that spirit of goodwill, respect and dignity be revealed in our shared humanity especially in the ways in which we work out our differences.




Rev. Alan Naylor is at St. Mark’s Anglican Church, Qualicum Beach



Just Posted

U19B Rage play with heart at provincials

Parksville girls finish fourth despite giving up only four runs in five seven games

Town of Qualicum Beach to sell more than $5M in real estate

Sales to pay for recent real estate purchases, including St. Andrews Lodge

Parksville senior donates money from condo sale to Brazil for school

Giancarlo Chitto donates close to $435,000 to help build educational facility

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

VIDEO: Top winners announced for sand sculpting competition

See the sculptures as they progress through the competition at Parksville Community Park

VIDEO: Firefighters put out brush fire in Nanaimo

Fire broke out in the area of a new development under construction in East Wellington

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Most Read