How to overcome love of debate?

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Wizard in the Forest
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How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:52 am

I love to discuss ideas and used to love debating in debate clubs, but I recognize now that it generates unsuitable conflict and discontent among myself and others. What is a way to overcome the attachment to debating and heated discussion? What are some recommendations the Buddha had about recognizing the drawbacks of debate and also how to overcome the will to debate?
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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby tiltbillings » Sun Jan 02, 2011 7:54 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:I love to discuss ideas and used to love debating in debate clubs, but I recognize now that it generates unsuitable conflict and discontent among myself and others. What is a way to overcome the attachment to debating and heated discussion? What are some recommendations the Buddha had about recognizing the drawbacks of debate and also how to overcome the will to debate?
Don't debate anyone. And pay attention to your wanting to.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

dheamhan a fhios agam

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby PeterB » Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:18 am

Personally once the novelty of the Internet wore off, I realised that most of the time the urge to contribute was ( either subtly or overtly ) to put everyone straight and to show how clever I am.

That urge just then died a natural death.

I am not advocating that for everyone..but it it would result in less volume and higher quality.
I think genuine questions are great.
Its the urge to answer and pick holes in other answers, or recast the question in subjective terms, that should be examined as to motive.

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Fede » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:48 am

PeterB wrote:Personally once the novelty of the Internet wore off, I realised that most of the time the urge to contribute was ( either subtly or overtly ) to put everyone straight and to show how clever I am.

That urge just then died a natural death.

I am not advocating that for everyone..but it it would result in less volume and higher quality.
I think genuine questions are great.
Its the urge to answer and pick holes in other answers, or recast the question in subjective terms, that should be examined as to motive.


I have to take issue with this.








(Just kidding.)

As it happens, I completely agree.
I further believe that debate becomes unskilful when we choose to attack the other person's temperament, knowledge, methodology or experience.
Any form of ridicule is undignified, and really the matter should be debated without the use of ad hominem attacks, judicious avoidance of smoke and mirror counter-plays, or introducing strawman arguments.

(I just had to find a way of using all three in one sentence. So sue me..... :tongue: )
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby ground » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:55 am

There is nothing wrong about discussions but there may be something wrong with the attitudes, mind-sets, motivations this is done.
However "love of debate" IMO may stand for "attachment to debate" which of course may entail "not knowing the right time for debate" and "not knowing the right time to abandon debate".

So the question actually may boil down to "How to overcome attachment?"


Kind regards

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby bodom » Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:36 pm

Here are some words from the pali canon on the drawbacks of debate:

"And how does one engage with people in quarrelsome debate? There is the case where a certain person is a fomenter of this kind of debate: 'You understand this doctrine & discipline? I'm the one who understands this doctrine & discipline. How could you understand this doctrine & discipline? You're practicing wrongly. I'm practicing rightly. What should be said first you said last. What should be said last you said first. I'm being consistent. You're not. What you took so long to think out has been refuted. Your doctrine has been overthrown. You're defeated. Go and try to salvage your doctrine, or extricate yourself if you can!' This is how one engages with people in quarrelsome debate.

"And how does one not engage with people in quarrelsome debate? There is the case where a certain person is not a fomenter of this kind of debate: 'You understand this doctrine & discipline? I'm the one who understands this doctrine & discipline. How could you understand this doctrine & discipline? You're practicing wrongly. I'm practicing rightly. What should be said first you said last. What should be said last you said first. I'm being consistent. You're not. What you took so long to think out has been refuted. Your doctrine has been overthrown. You're defeated. Go and try to salvage your doctrine, or extricate yourself if you can!' This is how one does not engage with people in quarrelsome debate.

"So, householder, what was said by the Blessed One in Magandiya's Questions in the Atthaka Vagga:

'Having abandoned home, living free from society, the sage in villages creates no intimacies. Rid of sensual passions, free from yearning, he wouldn't engage with people in quarrelsome debate.'

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


"Only here is there purity" — that's what they say — "No other doctrines are pure" — so they say. Insisting that what they depend on is good, they are deeply entrenched in their personal truths. Seeking controversy, they plunge into an assembly, regarding one another as fools. Relying on others' authority, they speak in debate. Desiring praise, they claim to be skilled. Engaged in disputes in the midst of the assembly, — anxious, desiring praise — the one defeated is chagrined. Shaken with criticism, he seeks for an opening. He whose doctrine is [judged as] demolished, defeated, by those judging the issue: He laments, he grieves — the inferior exponent. "He beat me," he mourns. These disputes have arisen among contemplatives. In them are elation, dejection. Seeing this, one should abstain from disputes, for they have no other goal than the gaining of praise. He who is praised there for expounding his doctrine in the midst of the assembly, laughs on that account & grows haughty, attaining his heart's desire. That haughtiness will be his grounds for vexation, for he'll speak in pride & conceit. Seeing this, one should abstain from debates. No purity is attained by them, say the skilled. Like a strong man nourished on royal food, you go about, roaring, searching out an opponent. Wherever the battle is, go there, strong man. As before, there's none here. Those who dispute, taking hold of a view, saying, "This, and this only, is true," those you can talk to. Here there is nothing — no confrontation at the birth of disputes. Among those who live above confrontation not pitting view against view, whom would you gain as opponent, Pasura, among those here who are grasping no more? So here you come, conjecturing, your mind conjuring viewpoints. You're paired off with a pure one and so cannot proceed.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


"Monks, there is the case where some worthless men study the Dhamma: dialogues, narratives of mixed prose and verse, explanations, verses, spontaneous exclamations, quotations, birth stories, amazing events, question & answer sessions [the earliest classifications of the Buddha's teachings]. Having studied the Dhamma, they don't ascertain the meaning (or: the purpose) of those Dhammas [5] with their discernment. Not having ascertained the meaning of those Dhammas with their discernment, they don't come to an agreement through pondering. They study the Dhamma both for attacking others and for defending themselves in debate. They don't reach the goal for which [people] study the Dhamma. Their wrong grasp of those Dhammas will lead to their long-term harm & suffering. Why is that? Because of the wrong-graspedness of the Dhammas.

"But then there is the case where some clansmen study the Dhamma... Having studied the Dhamma, they ascertain the meaning of those Dhammas with their discernment. Having ascertained the meaning of those Dhammas with their discernment, they come to an agreement through pondering. They don't study the Dhamma either for attacking others or for defending themselves in debate. They reach the goal for which people study the Dhamma. Their right grasp of those Dhammas will lead to their long-term welfare & happiness. Why is that? Because of the right-graspedness of the Dhammas.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby PeterB » Sun Jan 02, 2011 3:22 pm

Fede wrote:
PeterB wrote:Personally once the novelty of the Internet wore off, I realised that most of the time the urge to contribute was ( either subtly or overtly ) to put everyone straight and to show how clever I am.

That urge just then died a natural death.

I am not advocating that for everyone..but it it would result in less volume and higher quality.
I think genuine questions are great.
Its the urge to answer and pick holes in other answers, or recast the question in subjective terms, that should be examined as to motive.


I have to take issue with this.








(Just kidding.)

As it happens, I completely agree.
I further believe that debate becomes unskilful when we choose to attack the other person's temperament, knowledge, methodology or experience.
Any form of ridicule is undignified, and really the matter should be debated without the use of ad hominem attacks, judicious avoidance of smoke and mirror counter-plays, or introducing strawman arguments.

(I just had to find a way of using all three in one sentence. So sue me..... :tongue: )

Ah... but also ma'am. I was in the habit of posting too often whereas you do not post enough...

:anjali:

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby octathlon » Sun Jan 02, 2011 6:01 pm

Excellent quotes, Bodom!
:thumbsup:

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Annapurna » Sun Jan 02, 2011 8:55 pm

This one has a lot of good advice:

the Kathavatthu suttha:

"Monks, there are these three topics for discussion. Which three?

"One may talk about the past, saying, 'Thus it was in the past.' One may talk about the future, saying, 'Thus it will be in the future.' Or one may talk about now in the present, saying, 'Thus it is now in the present.'

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as fit to talk with or unfit to talk with. If a person, when asked a question, doesn't give a categorical answer to a question deserving a categorical answer, doesn't give an analytical (qualified) answer to a question deserving an analytical answer, doesn't give a counter-question to a question deserving a counter-question, doesn't put aside a question deserving to be put aside, then — that being the case — he is a person unfit to talk with. But if a person, when asked a question, gives a categorical answer to a question deserving a categorical answer, gives an analytical answer to a question deserving an analytical answer, gives a counter-question to a question deserving a counter-question, and puts aside a question deserving to be put aside, then — that being the case — he is a person fit to talk with.

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as fit to talk with or unfit to talk with. If a person, when asked a question, doesn't stand by what is possible and impossible, doesn't stand by agreed-upon assumptions, doesn't stand by teachings known to be true,[1] doesn't stand by standard procedure, then — that being the case — he is a person unfit to talk with. But if a person, when asked a question, stands by what is possible and impossible, stands by agreed-upon assumptions, stands by teachings known to be true, stands by standard procedure, then — that being the case — he is a person fit to talk with.

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as fit to talk with or unfit to talk with. If a person, when asked a question, wanders from one thing to another, pulls the discussion off the topic, shows anger & aversion and sulks, then — that being the case — he is a person unfit to talk with. But if a person, when asked a question, doesn't wander from one thing to another, doesn't pull the discussion off the topic, doesn't show anger or aversion or sulk, then — that being the case — he is a person fit to talk with.

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as fit to talk with or unfit to talk with. If a person, when asked a question, puts down [the questioner], crushes him, ridicules him, grasps at his little mistakes, then — that being the case — he is a person unfit to talk with. But if a person, when asked a question, doesn't put down [the questioner], doesn't crush him, doesn't ridicule him, doesn't grasp at his little mistakes, then — that being the case — he is a person fit to talk with.

"Monks, it's through his way of participating in a discussion that a person can be known as drawing near or not drawing near. One who lends ear draws near; one who doesn't lend ear doesn't draw near. Drawing near, one clearly knows one quality, comprehends one quality, abandons one quality, and realizes one quality.[2] Clearly knowing one quality, comprehending one quality, abandoning one quality, and realizing one quality, one touches right release. For that's the purpose of discussion, that's the purpose of counsel, that's the purpose of drawing near, that's the purpose of lending ear: i.e., the liberation of the mind through no clinging.

Those who discuss when angered, dogmatic, arrogant,
following what's not the noble ones' way,
seeking to expose each other's faults,
delight in each other's misspoken word,
slip, stumble, defeat.
Noble ones don't speak in that way.
If wise people,
knowing the right time,
want to speak,
then, words connected with justice,
following the ways of the noble ones:
That's what the enlightened ones speak,
without anger or arrogance,
with a mind not boiling over,
without vehemence,
without spite.
Without envy they speak from right knowledge.
They would delight in what's well-said
and not disparage what's not.
They don't study to find fault,
don't grasp at little mistakes.
don't put down, don't crush,
don't speak random words.
For the purpose of knowledge,
for the purpose of [inspiring] clear confidence,
counsel that's true:

That's how noble ones give counsel,
That's the noble ones' counsel.
Knowing this,
the wise should give counsel without arrogance."



http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
http://www.schmuckzauberei.blogspot.com/

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Goofaholix » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:23 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:I love to discuss ideas and used to love debating in debate clubs, but I recognize now that it generates unsuitable conflict and discontent among myself and others. What is a way to overcome the attachment to debating and heated discussion? What are some recommendations the Buddha had about recognizing the drawbacks of debate and also how to overcome the will to debate?


Realise that it takes two to debate, this is what debate clubs are for so that debate can occur among consenting adults. I think you need to learn to be sensitive to whether the other person shares your love of debate or not. If not then an adversarial attitude will only cause offence, if so then I see no problem with debate (without attachment) for the fun of it.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Fede » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:10 pm

PeterB wrote:Ah... but also ma'am. I was in the habit of posting too often whereas you do not post enough...

:anjali:


I sure as heck don't come here often enough to see all my very good friends, that's faw shaw.... ;) :hug:
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Kare » Sun Jan 02, 2011 11:28 pm

Wizard in the Forest wrote:I love to discuss ideas and used to love debating in debate clubs, but I recognize now that it generates unsuitable conflict and discontent among myself and others. What is a way to overcome the attachment to debating and heated discussion? What are some recommendations the Buddha had about recognizing the drawbacks of debate and also how to overcome the will to debate?


You have got many good advices here.

But - remember that the Buddha also liked a good debate. You find them all over the Tipitaka. So there is nothing wrong with debate. The important point is to try to keep the debates on a friendly level.

:anjali:
Mettāya,
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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Individual » Sun Jan 02, 2011 11:30 pm

tiltbillings wrote:Don't debate anyone. And pay attention to your wanting to.

Also, learn the difference between a competitive debate and a friendly dialectic.

One engages in debate with opponents, while dialectic or dialogue is for friends.

We are all Buddhists here, so we are not opponents; so it's called a debate forum, but really, ideally there should be no debate going on here at all.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby andre9999 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:25 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:I love to discuss ideas and used to love debating in debate clubs, but I recognize now that it generates unsuitable conflict and discontent among myself and others. What is a way to overcome the attachment to debating and heated discussion? What are some recommendations the Buddha had about recognizing the drawbacks of debate and also how to overcome the will to debate?


Why do you need to see what The Buddha said about recognizing the drawbacks of it when you can clearly see that you're increasing suffering of yourself and others?

How do you overcome the desire to debate? I'd suggest starting to place a priority on being kind to others as opposed to stroking your ego.

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:47 am

andrer9999 wrote:
Why do you need to see what The Buddha said about recognizing the drawbacks of it when you can clearly see that you're increasing suffering of yourself and others?


There's always more than just my personal experiences that can help me develop a more expansive point of view. :popcorn:

How do you overcome the desire to debate? I'd suggest starting to place a priority on being kind to others as opposed to stroking your ego.


Hmmm? Well that's all well and good, but I don't think in my mind "I want to hurt people's feelings." or "I intend to boost my ego by engaging in heated debate." Neither comes to mind, and that's a far too simplistic general point. What comes to mind is more often than not, "That is mistaken," "That is untrue", "That has no practical usage,"That is unbeneficial", "There's no insight to be gained from that", "That could have been said in a simpler way by taking out this web of concepts", "That is out of context", etc.

Sure they're probably veiled attempts of my ego trying to impose a sense of universal truth that may not exist, but I don't do it with an unfriendly intent. It probably comes from my time in debate club where I learned "No nonsense", as a result one becomes less tolerant of indirect attempts at twisting the truth in favor of persuasion, undignified discussion, and one becomes better at recognizing arguments and non arguments, so while the benefit is that I can pick out confused rhetoric from insightful dialogue, the bigger problem comes from not knowing when to stop thinking my perspective becomes the arbiter of what is true or false.
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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby andre9999 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:44 am

I'm not saying that you're being intentionally cruel or unfriendly. My question is if you're being intentionally kind. Where is your priority?

My understanding of Buddhism is that loving kindness is pretty crucial, but your description makes it sound like you've put it on the back burner.

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Wizard in the Forest » Mon Jan 03, 2011 2:59 am

andrer9999 wrote:I'm not saying that you're being intentionally cruel or unfriendly. My question is if you're being intentionally kind. Where is your priority?


My priority isn't to baby others, nor be the nice guy 100% of the time. I'm not a people pleaser, I try to tell it like it is.

My understanding of Buddhism is that loving kindness is pretty crucial, but your description makes it sound like you've put it on the back burner.


You can't really be kind if you are being unwise or allowing others to be unwise, or at its most egregious allow them to hurt themselves and others. The problem is that sometimes to give the right or wise answer means people are not going to like it, nor want to hear it in the first place. This often happens regardless of whether they're the person asking about it in the first place! :o That's when I recognize, hm, whoops this is not a debate. So and so just wants support for their already existing opinion. :? That's where my wisdom tells me I should stop, but I don't. I get mad because I wonder why talk they asked about it in the first place if they didn't want to hear the truth?
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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby andre9999 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 4:04 am

Wizard in the Forest wrote:My priority isn't to baby others, nor be the nice guy 100% of the time. I'm not a people pleaser, I try to tell it like it is.


"It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will." AN 5.198

You can tell it like it is, but still do it in a kind way.


Wizard in the Forest wrote:You can't really be kind if you are being unwise or allowing others to be unwise, or at its most egregious allow them to hurt themselves and others.


If they're doing something bad call the cops. Short of that, you're not allowing anyone to do anything.

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Hoo » Mon Jan 03, 2011 4:38 am

Here are some things I do (or try to do - chuckle)

1. Ask myself why I am picking up this particular topic or post. (What is my motiation,? to show off my superior knowledge, "save he world from misleading information" - chuckle, or to advocate my own view of what is right or best??

a)Many times it is because I have judged the post to be in error, but delivered as "the truth" in some way. So I am inserting myself in the role of judge and corrections person in someone else's communication. Most of the time it is because I detect a fallacy in logic or a faulty logic process.
b) Sometimes it is because the post seems to state something that I think is not in acordance with
Dhamma, or incorrectly cites some field approach that I have a lot of experience with. c) sometimes it is because I believe I have info that is relevant to the uestion, and d) sometimes it is out o genuine desire to help someone with a rpoblem that I have experienced, too, or dealt with in other ways.

2. I ask myself which of the four Immeasurables I am doing with picking it up and replying, loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and/or equanimity. This often is enough to alert me tht I am feeding my ego in some way, since I seem to not have the other person as primary in my intents.

3. I re-read my text before I forget and hit the send button. If I don't see the intent of compassion, I don't send and I don't pick up the thread again.

4. I remind myself that I am a work in progress. If I goof it up, I am as kind to myself. I most likely will only get better by seeing how often my intent is not clear and taking immediate steps.

5. When it's tough, or passion has arisen, I ask myself who put me in charge of what is right and wrong, wholesome or unwholesome, etc.

6. I also remind myself that folks are just trying to be happy, me too, and we sometimes don't find good ways to do that. I try to remember that happiness comes, for me, from practicing, not from arguing. From leaving some things alone instead of picking them up.

This particular post spoke to me because I had some practices related to your original comment and I thought sharing them might be of use to you or others. But my views are like any others -just views. So fel free to ignore them or use what you find useful.

With metta,
Hoo, living proof of why it's called "practice" instead of "attainments." ;) I'm still not good at this, but with practice, I"ve gotten better.

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Re: How to overcome love of debate?

Postby Annapurna » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:41 am

andrer9999 wrote:
Wizard in the Forest wrote:I love to discuss ideas and used to love debating in debate clubs, but I recognize now that it generates unsuitable conflict and discontent among myself and others. What is a way to overcome the attachment to debating and heated discussion? What are some recommendations the Buddha had about recognizing the drawbacks of debate and also how to overcome the will to debate?


Why do you need to see what The Buddha said about recognizing the drawbacks of it when you can clearly see that you're increasing suffering of yourself and others?

How do you overcome the desire to debate? I'd suggest starting to place a priority on being kind to others as opposed to stroking your ego.


:goodpost:

Also, Wizard, try to consider the possible hurt you are causing others, by giving them the feeling their opinion is without value.

The will to debate is often an attempt to contend, -and that stems from an inner frustration that needs to get vented.

Or, somebody is bored, and this can give him a little kick.

Or, he is nobody important, who has to fight real battles in life, managing a company and so forth, -and so needs to get the feelings and victories as a gladiator on verbal arenas...

Only you can know if any of the above is valid for you, I don't... :smile:

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