“Silly, Stupid Arguments”

A few days ago I was in the Laundromat doing what most ordinary everyday people do, washing my clothes. In the place where I do laundry, it is usually empty and this day was no different, maybe one or two other people were there. Great I thought, no distractions, no fighting for the “hottest” dryers, I can get in and out with no problems. 

But sudden the uncomfortable occurred. Two women, one not there to wash clothes, began a very heated shouting match. The language was not something that can be repeated in polite company. I have no idea what the dispute was about, but it escalated until one of the women’s “man” joined the discussion.  This was not a good sign.  The volume increased and then one of them left.  A few minutes later, the one that left, returned with her “man” and a physical altercation ensued. This was not going to end well.  As I watched from a safe distance, I wondered when a weapon would appear, but to my relief that did not happen.  The two, that were not there to wash clothes, rushed out and later two officers came to get a statement from the victim that was left in the laundromat.

As I reflected upon the incident once things were calm, I wondered to myself, what issue could have possibly caused this altercation.  Some misunderstanding, that could have been easily resolved? Possibly some issue that was not a life or death matter, which was inconsequential? In other words, some “silly, stupid argument,” that could have resulted in a serious or deadly ending. But for many, this is a scenario that plays out all too often in many communities and neighborhoods around our country everyday.  Some end as this one did without serious incident, but others with more tragic results.

But, then another thought crossed my mind. How much different was this incident than those happening everyday in different settings by dissimilar groups from diverse backgrounds and stations in life. Those that we consider to be more educated, affluent, influential or distinguished; that we hold in higher esteem and regard.

We see similar discussions on television or podcasts between professional moderators that we give the title “expert,” arguing about matters that are not as complex as they make them sound.  We hear politicians in Washington D.C. shouting down the President of the United States as he speaks to the nation, during a nationally televised State of the Union Address.  Or we listen to those elected to represent us engage in endless debates on the floor of the Senate or the House of Representatives, and watch as they make no decisions and pass no legislation, blaming each other for their impotence and inactivity.

Even in religious settings, Christians endlessly argue among themselves, finding fault with each other; or debating about issues that have no salvific import, mission objective or kingdom value. And I dare say the same can be said of other faith communities, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, etc.

And then I thought of all the conflicts that have caused global strife and worldwide tumult. WWI was triggered by a group of Serbian extremist that wanted to increase Serbian power and challenge the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Their rhetoric and aggression raised tensions that led to the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June 1914 and by August of 1914 the war began. It led to 40 million casualties and cost about 20 billion dollars.

The antecedent to WWII was economic depression that swept across the world causing panic and uncertainty among the citizenry making them vulnerable to extreme arguments or positions that sounded like solutions to their problems. It led to the rise of nazism, insularity and the wave of intolerance that arose in Germany. And then Germany found a reasonable argument to invaded Poland, claiming that the Danzing corridor of Poland was inhabited by German people. And this unwarranted aggression led to global conflict. When the war ended between 70–85 million people died and the cost was over 296 billion dollars.

And now we have witnessed a similar path being taken by Vladimir Putin as his invasion of the Ukraine passes the one year mark, in February 2023.  He claimed his reasons were based on NATO’s expansion eastward, Ukraine’s genocide of ethnic Russians, his failure to recognize Ukraine as a sovereign nation, the Ukrainian threat of nuclear weapons and who knows what else. The cost of the aggression, thus far has been 2.8 trillion dollars and the casualties have been between 175—200,000 on the Russian side and at least 100,000 on the Ukrainian side.

As I reflected on all of this, I thought to myself, how different are the arguments that precipitated all of these varied conflicts, from the one that I witnessed in the Laundromat that afternoon. Are we so naïve and condescending to believe that because someone is more educated, sophisticated, richer or more powerful; or because they have a more prestigious title that precedes their name like President, Chancellor, Senator, Bishop, Priest or Pastor; that their reasons for hostility or wars are more justified and less silly or stupid. And think about the enormous casualties and exorbitant costs that we have all suffered because of their gross stupidity. After all of the lessons of our past history with its tragic, costly and fatal results, will we ever learn?

Here are eleven (11) instructions to consider from the wise man the next time you are tempted to enter into another unnecessary, silly or stupid argument. You have my permission to pass them on to someone else…

Proverbs 10:11 NLT—“The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.”

Proverbs 11:11 NIV—“Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.”

Proverbs 12:18, 19 NLT 18—“Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing. 19—Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.”

Proverbs 13:3 NIV—“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.”

Proverbs 15:1, 2 NIV 1—“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 2—The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

Proverbs 15:18 NLT—“A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them.”

Proverbs 16:32 NLT—“Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.”

Proverbs 17:19 NLT—“Anyone who loves to quarrel loves sin; 

Proverbs 18:6 NLT—“Fools’ words get them into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating.”

Proverbs 18:21 NIV—“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Proverbs 20:3 NLT—“Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s