This past Tuesday, I witnessed our youth exhibiting what members of Congress too often cannot, or simply will not, do. I witnessed civil discourse in debate. In a boxing ring, no less. Rhetoric in the Ring IV featured Rogers High School debate students verbally sparring with Spokane district court Judge Debra Hayes and Aimee Maurer at the Howard Street Gym.
Rogers High School students may not enjoy socioeconomic advantage, and their debate program does not enjoy enough funding compared to other schools in our region. And yet, the priceless treasure that these young adults possess is a desire to embrace and honor the too-often-ignored reality that “words matter.” Their arguments at the recent event rang rare chords, combining assertiveness and heartfelt affinity for their opponents.
Any meaningful exchange of ideas must involve not only listening, but empathizing. As a society, we must continue to celebrate and preserve everyone’s ability to stand in the rhetorical ring of democracy and civil discourse. Let’s let these students be our example as we continue through these heated political times.
Let’s all work as friends, family and even foes to increasingly elevate public debate high above the embarrassing low-blows of a street fight.