When to Argue & When to Shut It

when to argue

Liza Tait-Bailey Society ,,,,

In the age of endless YouTube comment chains and zealous arguments about the colours of M&Ms, Liza weighs in on the appropriate time to argue.


Recently I was meeting a friend of a friend, and the conversation, as it can often do, turned to politics. Now politics is a tricky subject at the best of times, since when people disagree they tend to do it vehemently and keep in mind that I’m currently in the United States where the momentum of campaigns is probably best described as volcanic.

In this conversation, and I’m generalising here for the sake of anecdote, the person I was talking to was pro-Trump and anti-immigration.

Now you may have seen that I don’t talk too much about my political beliefs on here, because I think that such conversations are better had in person where nuance can flourish, but it would be fair to say that I am the complete opposite: I hate Trump with a fiery passion (even if I thought his economic policies were good, I can never look past his hate fuelled speeches and divisive campaigning) and believe that my country and many countries in the world benefit hugely from the people that choose to take up resident t/here (you can probably tell my opinions on Brexit, huh?).

But what could I say?

It was a pleasant summers morning and I was only present in the conversation because a friend was visiting and wanted to catch up with her friend who happened to live near by. To get into a raging politics debate over the breakfast table would have been rude and unproductive.

I felt guilty for not defending the people that were being (in my opinion) unfairly stereotyped, but awkward about doing anything other than trying to agree as little as possible whilst remaining polite. It was a thoroughly difficult situation, and not the first time that I had encountered something like this.

When we passionately believe in something, we want everyone to share our view – particularly if it is something that can be damaging to others. There is, without doubt, a space for debate. We should be discussing these topics, and sharing our point of view. I want to make the world a more friendly and inclusive place and that means getting into debates, but should it come at the cost of personal relationships?

I really don’t have the answer here, except to say that silence can be powerful. Silence itself can be a form of dissent, a subtle indicator of disagreement, and in that situation it was the best I could do.

What do you think: Should we always argue for our beliefs?

This post first originally appeared on Liza’s blog, and has been republished with the author’s permission. Check her stuff out [she’s a wanderer].