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Discuss vs. Debate

  • Posted on January 6, 2012 at 8:00 AM

According to, discussion means:

an act or instance of discussing;  consideration or examination by argument, comment, etc., especially to explore solutions; informal debate.

Whereas, debate means:

1. a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints: a debate in the Senate on farm price supports.

2. a formal contest in which the affirmative and negative sides of a proposition are advocated by opposing speakers.

3. deliberation; consideration.

4. Archaic . strife; contention.

In the greater autism community, we need more discussion and less debate.  If all we’re doing is arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong—no matter how respectful and considerate our approach is—we’re not accomplishing much.  If, on the other hand, we’re discussing problems of mutual interest, we just might be able to come up with mutually agreeable solutions.  If we can do that, we can work together to act on those solutions in a public forum.

Consider the political arena for a moment:  Two primary “sides” exist in the political forum, Democrats and Republicans.  When any seat is up for grabs, say the Oval Office, you’ll hear a lot of debate about which side should take the seat.  They don’t do anything.  They don’t decide anything.  It’s all up to the voters.  They just debate to show us our options.

Then, when they finally do get into office, usually both sides are heavily represented in the different elected bodies.  We have the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the President.  Consider our current bodies.  How much do they actually accomplish?  How many problems do they actually solve?  What is the result of all their debating?

My answer is “not much.”  Perhaps you disagree.  If so, keep debating.  If, however, you happen to agree with me, then maybe what we should do is get together and discuss what needs to be accomplished and how we might work together to accomplish it.