The making of an argument

A great deal of social change has been instigated by a convincing argument. Consider, for example, what Abraham Lincoln began when he argued against slavery. Henry Parkes must have likewise strung together a few convincing sentences in his suggestions for the future of Australia.

I have always enjoyed the challenge of making a convincing argument and regularly engage in teaching and encouraging others in the establishment of theirs. An argument sets a background, identifies a problem and proposes a solution. A convincing argument further counters that no solution, other than that proposed will be effective in solving the identified problem.

What I have come to learn is that one never knows when one might be called upon to make an argument. In fact, missing the social cues that now is the time to teach and encourage another in the development of their argument may have the explosive consequences akin to stepping on a landmine.

During an innocuous trip to the bread shop recently an argument was put to me that had some appealing points. My bread buying assistant had noticed that I was a little weary. He offered to carry the bread, and I gratefully accepted. On returning to the car my companion noted that despite that he had borne my heavy load, I still looked tired. I could use a little rest, he mused. I agreed wholeheartedly.

Background established and problem identified: text book set up of argument. Now was the time to propose his solution. "I'll drive home."

It was then that I stepped on the landmine. My rebuttal was somewhat less than encouraging, nor did it teach my assistant about the finer points of solution proposal. That the solution should ideally be legal might have been a more prudent place to start my counsel. Following that we could have moved to a more nuanced discussion: he can't see out the windows, much less the windscreen.

It perhaps wouldn't have made any difference. While I pondered how to redeem the situation for a teachable moment, he had thrown himself on the footpath and started to yell...

If you can't conjure a convincing argument as to why you should cook dinner (again!), may I suggest this week's menu?

After next week we will be taking a short break, so don't forget to stock up for the holidays. We'll be sure to let you know as soon as we're back in the kitchen. For anyone in the Hills area who finds themselves a little short, don't forget that Ruby's Gourmet Pantry stock a number of Dinner on the Table dinners.