Saturday, October 09, 2010

Curious about Discussion: How Do You Feel about It? How Important Is It to You?

Definition of Discussion: The act of discussing or exchanging reasons; examination by argument; debate; disputation; agitation.

I think that in the discussion of natural problems we ought to begin not with the Scriptures, but with experiments, and demonstrations.” - Galileo Galilei, Italian scientist

Discussion in America means dissent.” - James Thurber, American comedian

I chose this week’s blog theme as “discussion” for several reasons. I just started re-reading Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, in which he applauds his team of helpers and their weekly discussions of the data collected. He makes these meetings sound, not only inspiring and eye opening, but also lively and fun.

Secondly, I am going to be involved tomorrow in a wrap-up discussion of the committee for a recent event gathering of a wonderful organization to which I belong. Our discussion should also be lively and fun. The group worked hard and the event was well attended and a success on all fronts – at least, in my opinion. Having a discussion as the wrap-up is such a great idea, because we will be able to document what worked well and what we can do in the future to make this excellent event even better.

And, then there are those discussions as described in the words above by James Thurber – filled with “dissent.” I also found that many of the quotations were filled with negativity and warnings. Personally, I have always felt that when a group of people disagree, it is a good idea to hold a discussion and get all of the negative connotations, as included in the definition, out in the open. What do you think? I will be interested in your reactions to the quotations which are all over the map.

Let’s get started:

  • Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.” - Hubert H. Humphrey, American Vice President
  • Frequently the more trifling the subject, the more animated and protracted the discussion.” - Franklin Pierce, American President
  • Group discussion is very valuable; group drafting is less productive.” - Jon Postel, American scientist
  • One good analogy is worth three hours discussion.” - Dudley Field Malone, American politician
  • Power is action; the electoral principle is discussion. No political action is possible when discussion is permanently established.” - Honore De Balzac, French novelist
  • Discussion is just a tool. You have to aim; the final goal must be a decision.” - Harri Holkeri, Finnish politician
  • Human and moral factors must always be considered. They must never be missing from policies and from public discussion.” - Herman Kahn, American scientist

And some more:

  • The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.” - Joseph Joubert, French writer
  • The aspect of congresses and such meetings generally to which I attach the greatest importance is the discussion. That is why people assemble: to hear different opinions, rather than to pass resolutions.” - Fredrik Bajer, Danish writer
  • The next four years, there won't be a week that goes by without a discussion of climate change. It's a naturally Conservative issue.” - Tim Yeo, British politician
  • If a teacher does not involve himself, his values, his commitments, in the course of discussion, why should the students?” - Paul Wellstone, American politician
  • I think that the U.S. does have this very much more open attitude, and I admire it very much and I think it's very important to the world. But the information and the discussion sometimes come too late, after the effective decision has been made.” - E. P. Thompson, British historian
  • If somebody comes to a neighborhood coffee hour, or goes to a discussion group, and they have a discussion, I do think that people really walk away with a real understanding of the issues.” - Mike Lowry, American politician
  • In the Bhagavad Gita, there is no long discussion, nothing elaborate. The main reason for this is that everything stated in the Gita is meant to be tested in the life of every man; it is intended to be verified in practice.” - Vinoba Bhave, Indian educator

And a bit of humor to lighten the subject:

Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking.” - Clement Attlee, English leader

A rattlesnake loose in the living room tends to end all discussion of animal rights.” –
Lance Morrow, American journalist and writer

So, how do you feel about discussion? Do you get involved with many? And, if so, do you enjoy or dislike them? Are they necessary?