It has been several years since I watched Al Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth on
global warming climate change. The circumstances were interesting. The Heartland Institute sent me the film on DVD. I believe they mailed it to many people. They also sent along a second film as a form of rebuttal. Just as Heartland intended, I sat down and watched both films.
The Heartland Institute could have simply attacked Gore’s film, attacked his character, selectively cited his words, emphasized weak points, etc. But instead, they sent Gore’s film (the primary document) and said, “Watch this.” The strategy demonstrated confidence in their own position and charity toward Gore’s views because they had the integrity to deal with Gore in his own words and in full.
How often do participants in arguments of any kind give such respect to their opponents and their position? There is another important point worth noting. While Heartland’s approach to An Inconvenient Truth demonstrated respect for Gore and his side of the argument, it also exhibited respect for me as someone who might really want to understand the issue. Rather than manipulating me, Heartland dignified me. They treated me as someone who would like to learn rather than as someone they needed to trick into accepting a point of view.
We should look for similar attributes from people who would like to convince us of something. In other words, pretty much the opposite of the meme generators who rule social media today.