Saturday, January 23, 2010

Debate

I had the honor of judging in the Midwest Regional Homeschoolers' Forensics Qualifiers for the last two days (that's not the real name, but it is accurate). This is my third year of volunteer judging with homeschoolers, and I encourage anyone given the opportunity to take it.

Do not be afraid of these young people. We want them in power, and we should help them get there.
The Lincoln-Douglas question for this year seems to be "Competition is more useful than cooperation in creating excellence."

Not an easy subject. Last year's topic dealt with subjectivity vs. objectivity as the basis for reality. Boy, that was a show-stopping final debate! I was glad I was one of seven judges. I would never have wanted all that responsibility on my shoulders.

It is an interesting question, though. Competition vs. Cooperation: which is better?

I take the middle line that you need both, but you can't take a middle line in debate. You're either for or against.

The affirmative side argued that competition leads to vitality or striving and that improves quality and provides accountability (There was a third point, but statistically, in any list of three, the third is forgotten).

The negative side argued that competition without morality creates a "survival of the fittest" scenario that ultimately destroys society as a whole. He argued that Biblical morality and its inherent cooperative aspect must be the foundation of all competitive efforts or tyranny will be the end result.
Not a bad argument, really.

As a writer, I realize I also walk a line between competition and cooperation. Competing with other writers (such as in the MLS contest) forces me to improve the quality of my work. It holds me accountable for my skill. If I'm not good enough, readers will not buy my books because I have competitors.

However, cooperation is also useful. If I didn't trust my critique partners at The Sandbox, I would never be able to hone my stories before they were published.

Since I'm not in a Lincoln-Douglas debate, I'm sticking with my resolution that both are necessary, and I will adopt the negative side's argument that Biblical morality is the best foundation for all efforts. Competition without morality does lead to tyranny, but cooperation with no chance of failure leads to apathy.

Congrats to all the participants this year. And a special "thank you" to the cook, who kept me full of biscuits and gravy.

See you in May.

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