Arguing Your Point Is Still OK

Without arguing, how do you convince someone to do the right thing?

Arguing Your Point Is Still OK

Randy Lorge

The simple definition of the word “argue:”

  • To give reasons for or against something: to say or write things in order to change someone’s opinion about what is true, what should be done, etc.
  • To cause (someone) to decide to do or not do something by giving reasons.
  • To disagree or fight by using angry words.

At church the other day, our priest opened the homily by stating, “We have become a society where it is no longer OK to argue with each other anymore.”

My first thought was, “Really? Have you turned on the news or read social media lately? The world is full of arguing!”

But then as he spoke more, it occurred to me that I wasn’t following what he was saying. He didn’t say that society doesn’t argue. He says, “It’s not OK to argue with each other anymore.”

Think about that for a second.

To argue is to express your opinion about something. As I thought more about it, I think he’s correct. We have become a society where there is no room for middle ground. And when an argument occurs, we hold our opinions as right and others as wrong without giving consideration to the purpose of the argument, which at the very least is to consider looking at something differently.


Argument 1: Water is a basic human right, and everyone in the world is entitled to it. We as an international community must do more to ensure everyone receives it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 780 million people around the world do not have access to an improved water source. Improved drinking-water sources should, but do not always, provide safe drinking water and include:

  • Piped household water connection
  • Public standpipe
  • Borehole
  • Protected dug well
  • Protected spring
  • Rainwater collection.

That’s approximately 9% of the world’s population. Of that number, approximately 1.6 million Americans still don’t have hot and cold running water, a bathtub or shower, or a working flush toilet. Millions more don’t have clean water that’s safe to drink.

In June, I worked with my team on the Navajo Nation reservation located on the Arizona/Utah border in a very remote mountainous region. I witnessed firsthand three familys’ homes where they didn’t have water — much less a safe sanitation system. Did you know that a total of 40% of the 173,000 residents of Navajo Nation lack access to clean, safe drinking water?

These families had to travel several miles through treacherous terrain to fill containers and transport it back to their homes. In one week’s time, we installed three 1,200-gallon water cisterns — which could be filled by water tanker trucks, and water distribution systems with photovoltaic-powered pumps. We also installed the sanitary drainage for each home and septic systems for safe disposal of the wastes.

Argument 2: Safe disposal of sanitary wastes must be provided to everyone around the world. Access to proper sanitation is also considered to be a human right, not a privilege, for every man, woman and child. In today’s modern world there is no acceptable excuse for civilized humans to live without these systems.

According to the World Health Organization and UNICEF, in 2015 only 68% of the world’s population used improved sanitation facilities, with sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia having only 30% and 47%, respectively.

Improved sanitation facilities usually ensure separation of human excreta from human contact and include:

  • Flush or pour-flush toilet/latrine to:
    • Piped sewer system
    • Septic tank
    • Pit latrine.
  • Ventilated improved pit latrine.
  • Pit latrine with slab.
  • Composting toilet.

An estimated 2.4 billion people are still without improved sanitation. About 13% of the world’s population lives without any form of sanitation and practice open defecation.

As I mentioned earlier, my team and I installed three septic systems last month on the Navajo Nation reservation. Prior to having these systems, the homeowners used pit latrines. The region we worked in experiences sweltering heat in the summer and extreme cold in the winter. You can imagine the challenge it is to simply use the latrine and the unsanitary conditions, which they must endure.

Prior to my involvement with my team, I would have been hard pressed to believe that the conditions I’ve written about exist in the United States of America. For some reason it was easier for me to believe that these conditions could only be found in underdeveloped countries of the world. But as I dig deeper and become more aware of my very own surroundings here in the USA, I’ve come to realize that these conditions literally exist right under our very own noses.

Just to give you another example of the horrific conditions some Americans are living in, two counties surveyed in the Black Belt region of Alabama revealed upward of 50% of the rural residents have raw sewage discharging on the ground surface due to failed septic systems.

This is unacceptable.


The World Health Organization reports that some 829,000 people are estimated to die each year from diarrhea as a result of unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene. Yet diarrhea is largely preventable, and the deaths of 297,000 children under the age of 5 years old could be avoided each year if these risk factors were addressed.

I started this article with the definition of the word “argue” and the statement that “It’s not OK to argue with each other anymore.”

If I don’t argue with you about this topic, then how will I change your opinions about what is true and what should be done? If I don’t argue with you about this topic, then how will I cause you to decide to do or not do something?

And if I don’t argue with you, how can we fight together to make a change?


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