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Why Arguing With Fools Is Like Playing Chess With A Pigeon

Why is arguing with fools like playing chess with a pigeon? Because it doesn't matter how masterfully tutored you've been in the theory, how sound your critical thinking and strategy may be, or how good you are at the game in general, the pigeon is always going to knock over the chess pieces, crap on the board and strut around like it won anyway.

So, when invited to argue with a fool - and let's be honest, we all have someone in mind right now - you must first consider your opponent. When have they ever demonstrated an iota of sound, logical, reasoned thought? When have they ever persuaded you around to their way of thinking with a well considered rationale? Do they live their life in high respect, integrity and honour - a life you would swap with them in an instant - or are they cantankerous, combative and difficult by nature? Your answer to that last question tells you whether you're dealing with a pigeon or not.

Let me be clear, compelling and thoughtful debate with another highly functioning cognitive mind is fun, healthy, essential, and stimulating, often resulting in increased learning and personal growth. Trying to make yourself heard over someone else's noisy, nakedly argumentative, "poor me" control drama however, is not.

It's helpful to remember this critical life maxim: You do not have to attend every argument you're invited to. You always have a choice, and in this instance, you can make the decision to disengage and walk away, because you have that right. Why waste your time, energy, breath, and attention? What could you realistically achieve by staying and making your point, when your opponent is (figuratively speaking) going to knock over the pieces, crap on the board and strut about like they won anyway? They're not listening, they're incapable of listening, because their opinions are facts to them, and those who can't change their minds can't change anything. Ugh, life's to short for that. Move on to people and circumstances worthy of your time and energy.

"Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it" - George Bernard Shaw

Let's think about pigeon's for a moment. For many (and apologies to pigeon fanciers), pigeons are troublesome, filthy flying vermin. They have small heads, beady eyes and tiny minds. They are uncommonly bold, wholly ineligible for such over confidence, and prone to puffing out their chests to make themselves appear bigger and more relevant than they actually are. Sound like someone you know?

In all honesty pigeons evoke my sympathy, as they have so little going for them. Pigeons are not the most beautiful winged creatures, they have little to no intelligence, zero charm and are generally reviled by the masses for the copious amounts of crap they produce. Whilst I choose to disengage from their human equivalents, and offer only my compassion, I am in no way obligated to tolerate their crap. I just don't have that kind of time or inclination.


In a previous life, many years ago in a galaxy far, far away I worked in a highly stressful office environment. It wasn't the work that was stressful, I enjoyed the work immensely, it was the people I had to work with that made it stressful. I can only describe my first day on the job as walking into the middle of warring factions, not knowing which one I could/would/should join and belong to - if any. I was also very young and comparatively inexperienced, which contributed to the weight of stress I began to feel almost immediately.

It wasn't long before I was compelled to protect my sanity and so purchased a book by Paul McKenna about how to manage (workplace) stress. In the book, Paul taught me how to visualise the challenging characters I was working with, and then to add Micky Mouse ears to them. Once I had "moused" them, I should then zap them down (in my mind's eye) in physical size. This is akin to visualising your audience sitting on the loo before public speaking, you're reducing or negating the power you've afforded them. Finally, I had to give the challenging work colleagues a Micky/Minnie Mouse voice, for their potency reduction to be complete.

I am mentioning this so when you're next invited to an argument with a fool, mouse 'em. Consider the possibility their hostility is fuelled by insecurity, past hurts, or a genuine mental capacity insufficiency (which is a polite way of saying they're not so bright). There might also be cognitive dysfunctions in play, like sociopathy, narcissistic personality disorder, or the onset of medically verifiable mental decline, e.g.: dementia. My broader point is this, don't take it personally. Personalities like this are likely to behave this way with everyone, whatever the underlining reason might be. What is certain however is, it sure as hell is not yours to carry!

Whatever the reason for their behaviour, you are only responsible for your own behaviour. Choose to rise above the smallness on offer. Detach and disengage from those who revel in drama, because your time is better spent with those who are going to lift you higher, not bog you down. Think of a hot air balloon. Those who revel in arguments effectively weigh you down like the sandbags tethering the balloon to earth before flight. If you want to fly, the sandbags must go.

If it helps, visualise your opponent as the puffed up, tiny minded pigeon strutting about with comically ineligible over confidence, forever on the cusp of spewing out more crap. Then just wait for them to knock over the pieces in a predictable fit of pique, before moving on with your life. Set them free to go and play chess with other pigeons, because you have important things to achieve. Have the self-respect to disengage. Honour your life's sacred mission by cutting yourself free from anyone and anything that prevents you from flying.

Keep making shift happen!

Karan x


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