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Debate has transformed my life

Popularity 4Viewed 1742 times 2015-8-10 22:37 |System category:News| debate

A few days ago one of my good friends phoned me at night and we had a short conversation on the phone in English. By accident our conversation ran into my today’s topic “debate”. 


本為獻策,卻成辯人:I was hoping to offer my strategies but now I have become a debater (satire)

He is an English teacher, and that day he worked as a judge of a debate competition held among his students. He spoke highly of the debate process, and from his tone I knew he liked debate. However, the truth is when I was working with him in the same company about 4-5 years ago, I had always been debating with him. The usual results were I won because he lacked convincing evidence to prove his point although we did this in casual conditions. I didn’t feel excited about this because in my mind my colleague was weak at this. In fact, the truth might not be like this only.

Now coming back to my college school years, I felt so thrilling to show my sharp views with my “excellent (in fact, it was only what I thought that time)” oral English in front of my peers at Xi’an Fanyi (Translating and Interpreting) University from 2006 to 2010. At that time our university held many debate competitions, and I participated in some of them. Alas! No matter how excellent I thought I was that time, I was defeated even in the first round of each competition. It was not only I who had been defeated so seriously, buy also the team from my class. 

Why did I fail? I think there are three reasons at least. First, I didn’t really understand the views of my team’s rivals; second, I didn’t even heard clearly what they were talking about; third, my preparation was not enough so that I had no convincing evidence to defend my views. 

After each competition I was not so depressed like a rabbit with ears drooping down, and instead I told myself many of rivals were terrible or didn’t speak proper English or held great views. Why did they win? They had luck and they were eloquent. And I might have not conquered such skills. 

Apart from these competitions, I spent lots of night time in speaking English with my peers at the college’s Foreign Language School’s English corner. Every night when I walked into that place, I would be falling into the bog of debate soon. I directly expressed my views by varying the words, phrases, sentence structures and even idioms I could remember among those standing around me. I was often challenged by some. Many times I could successfully avoid their attacks and won, while sometimes I found I had to admit I was wrong or too extreme. Even because of my direct way of talking, I was hated by one lady, who never spoke with me later. I continued my direct way of debating so that many found I was annoying. Fortunately, many who had debated with me liked me and we became good friends later although now we may have forgotten our past friendships.

After graduation from that university, I traveled to Xi’an International Studies University’s and Beijing Renmin (people’s) University’s English corners to debate too. In Xi’an I was still a sharp boy, while in Beijing I didn’t dare to do so because many of the speakers came from overseas or from top universities. More importantly, I had subconsciously changed from my past. I was not involved in debate so often, and instead, I tried to show the more reasonable, more approachable and new ideas I knew to surprise my audience and friends. Also, I learned to listen to their stories and understandings of our world, because I knew my views might have loopholes.

Now I am in Suzhou. It seems that my story should end here. But several days when I read news and found the stories about the U.S.’s presidential campaign, I was hoping to write something down but I gave up because of lacking a good state for writing. Now time comes because this article’s theme seems to have some relations to that campaign.

I know the campaign is usually a four-year once thing. Candidates who debate with one another during the campaign as a way to show their “correct than correct” ideologies. Many people appreciate this it because this way may make great ideas and help select more suitable presidents. For me, a nameless Chinese native who has never traveled to the U.S. before or followed the whole process yet, I shouldn’t have a word about it. However, I have a view. A debate or several rounds of debates cannot help decide who is wrong or who is correct. I don’t think the truth can come from a debate. 

Now my view is clear, and let’s go back to my 4-5 years ago when I was debating with my colleague. 

I often won if I debated with him, but I don’t think the truth is his points were always weak. And later he told me he knew what he said was not so meaningful but these meaningless words could form topics for us to discuss and chat about. In fact, I was a fool. On the other hand, he just didn’t know how to argue with a man who had “special” ideas. The funny thing is he likes debate now.

Now when I think about debate, I couldn’t help reminding myself of what Zhang Yi (learn this man from Wiki) says in a famous Chinese TV series The Qin Empire (learn this from Wiki): “I was hoping to offer my strategies but now I have become a debater (satire)” when his idea is challenged and suspected by the courtiers of The State of Qin (learn this from Wiki).” [Note: This subtitle may not be the exact words from the Zhang Yi of the Warring States of China but may be the words made up by the director of the TV series] By learning this story, I get an idea: if my idea is good enough and I am confident of it, I don’t have to debate to prove I am correct because the practice of my theory will prove my correctness. 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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