I don't like to argue. I'm not a "can't-we-all-just-get-along" person, but I don't like to argue, either. Maybe it's because, to me, most things don't seem worth arguing about. And most of us don't know squat about the things we attempt to debate ... so what's the point? Whenever I find myself with an argumentative person, my approach is more to say, "Really? Can you tell me more about your opinion on the subject, and why you think this way?" than to argue with him (or her). Because really, what do I know? Too often, probably, I assume that everyone knows more about everything under the sun than I do.
Also, whenever an argument advances (descends) from polite interchange and intelligent discussion to dirty looks, dismissive coments, and the like, I just start to feel sick. A weight just sinks to the pit of my stomach, my throat swells and closes up so it's hard to breathe, and I start trembling. And I don't even have to be a participant in the argument (I'm usually not, anyway).
So tonight when the poetry group descended from talking about poetry and celebrating a birthday to an argument (debate) about intelligent design (ID) and evolution, I started to get that sick feeling. I wasn't very much part of the argument, though I did put in my Nancy Pearcey-inspired two cents. Then the dismissiveness started, the looking down upon, the ugliness. And I got a sick sense of something very ... sinister. Perhaps that's not the word I'm looking for. It was just a negativity. I can't explain it. All I knew was that I had to leave. I had to get out of there.
So I packed up my stuff and said, "I'm sorry, y'all. I'm tired and I just can't deal with this [insert expletive] tonight." And I walked out.
I know it was rude and not the best way to deal with a situation, but it's what happened. I thought I was going to have a panic attack. I always feel that way whenever arguments start up in this or any other group, but this time, whether it was from my exhaustion, or all the stress of starting a new job, or whatever, I felt like I had to leave. Immediately. No questions asked.
I hate arguments. Some people thrive on them, but I'm not one of those people. I do wish I responded less negatively to them, though.