I like dissent. It has always called out to me. I have enjoyed sitting in on discussions between opposing ideologies and different schools of thought. There is something like a voyeuristic pleasure in listening to other people argue; as long as you don’t have to yourself.

That has been one of the reasons I drag my feet to debate sessions and try to end up in places where I see people arguing. I have almost never focused on the final result of the argument. It is the exchange of ideas that has been the motivating factor for me. I don’t need dissent if any of you is wondering about that. I can do with just plain old normal dissent-free discussions too but dissent has brought out sides, out of their hiding places and into the playing field more than once.

Recently I was in a situation where there came up a dissenting situation among those of us present. I didn’t mind the dissent at all. It brought up quite a few ideas from us and helped us understand the reasons behind the views of the “other side”. That understanding made one’s own stance more clear.

One of things that has helped me understand more about what I like about dissent was this particular instance. There was a clear disagreement and the parties involved were each hoping for different outcomes. We all wanted things to proceed in some particular manner but it obviously wasn’t going to.

We all were sticking to our opinions and none of us were budging. This brought out a point where we knew that nothing was going to proceed much further from this point onward. Now that brought my attention to the fact that while dissent is necessary and important, it should always lead to some decisions in cases where the dissent started out about something that needed to be decided.

I’ve heard how dissent is important in a democracy. Now I’m starting to think that while dissent may be very important in a democracy there needs to be a way to progress out of the dissent and not get bogged down among it’s many intricate hidden twists and turns. Dissent in the initial stages is important but after that one does have to start moving towards something that gets better and gets one closer to a solution and farther away from deadlocks.

Deadlocks are something that each and every one of us is familiar with. We may not know that it is called that but we have all seen it happen and have been rendered helpless by it countless times. Deadlocks happen when things cannot agree on what gets precedence and what gets to use those resources or whatever there has been a deadlock for. The whole problem is created when one cannot decide how to make certain decisions.

There are parties that want different things, both sides have their reasons for doing/saying whatever they are doing/saying. Neither is willing to budge and give some leeway to the other side. These are situations that we all find ourselves quite frequently in, on many days of our lives.

What I realized was that dissent for the sake of dissent isn’t a good thing in any manner of speaking. Sure it does help a lot and sure it produces and brings out things that would never come out otherwise but it also hinders, a lot. Dissent has to stop at some point, it has to be oriented towards a positive outcome.

Dissent for the sake of dissent isn’t worth it, it isn’t worth it unless you can show some positive outcome or are moving towards something like that. Ideally this shouldn’t be like this, dissent should have a place, where it is welcome and cherished (or should it?). But practically, where one needs an outcome, where some decisions have to be made one does need to make sure that dissent doesn’t bog one down beyond a point. One needs to make sure that we are moving towards a solution to the situation at hand.

The dissent enjoying and cherishing ideal I subscribed to has cracks showing today. I now wonder how long one can keep arguing and haggling and heckling and when one needs to pick things up, buck up and rise and reach a consensus. Where does one draw that line? How does one decide when to stop? Do we use things from the theory of deadlock removal to figure this one out or are there more easier and simpler ways ahead?

Compromising and giving in are also skills that are equally important. Also, knowing which fights are the ones worth fighting. And we need to dissent in the first place to be able to compromise or give in, don’t we?
Author’s Note: This is mostly a rant that has indeed been inspired by real life events. I invite one and all to dissent my views.


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