How many of us have found ourselves in a debate, us on one side of an issue, and our counterpart on the polar opposite side. While in the debate we look for support from surrounding listeners. We want to be justified in our stance, so we begin to try to convince others while still trying to win the debate with our counterpart. Then, a listener emerges from the crowd who has been patiently waiting to say a few words. When the opportunity arises, they simply say this:
You’re both wrong.
What? We were sure that we were in the right and they (whomever our original counterpart was) was in the wrong. We were very sure. And this listener agreed, sort of. They agreed that our counterpart was wrong, but also accused us of being wrong. Not the kind of ally we were hoping for when we solicited their opinion.
In most debates the polar sides that are taken are not always the stances that need justifying. Quite often there is a third way. This third way reconciles the values that make each original stance valid, and eliminates the qualities that make each stance a tool of violence to our fellow man.
Stance 1: Everyone has to work to earn their keep in a society.
Stance 2: No one should have to work to earn their keep in a society.
The Third Way: No one should avoid the work they know they should be doing as part of the society they are in.
The third way affirms the ability of each member of a society to do work. It also affirms the problem that the initial debate is based on, that is the avoidance of work. The third way does not define said work, leaving opportunity for anything from manual labor, to spending time with a neighbor, to working through unnecessary guilt, to be defined as work. Neither does the third way relate the doing of work to the earning of keep, thus undercutting the lie that people’s value in a society is somehow related to the type or quality of their work.
So the next time we end up in a debate, keep your eye out for the third way. It could end the debate and solve the problem all at the same time.