It was a hot summer day in the early 50s. I had been fighting with my younger brother over something that seemed terribly important at the time but whatever the issue was, it has long been forgotten. However, I do recall that during the argument, I had tried unsuccessfully to talk him into seeing my point of view, and he wasn't making any sense expressing his. I was at my wit's end. Therefore, I retreated to the only person that would understand me-my friend, Mr. Lee. He had been born in China and had come to America as a young man and lived across the street from me. I liked him for many reasons, but what I appreciated most was that he listened to me. In a non-judgmental way, he was always able to show me where I had made a mistake or needed to change. He would allow me to vent over arguments with my parents or brother, and then he would tell me a story about growing up in China as an illustration of his advice to me.
On this occasion, Mr. Lee entranced me with a story about a Buddhist monk that was his teacher in China. He recounted being a teenager when he got into a heated argument with another student in the monastery where both were studying. The other student wasn't making any sense to Mr. Lee. The more Mr. Lee argued with his fellow student, the more frustrated he got. It nearly got to the point of a physical fight.
The Buddhist monk took Mr. Lee aside and talked with him. The monk ended his admonition with these words: "If you argue with a fool, you will leave the argument feeling like a fool." Even at my young age, I knew that Mr. Lee wasn't calling my brother a fool-even though I often called him worse. Mr. Lee wanted me to see that when tempers rise to the boiling point, nothing gets resolved.
Here are several ideas that will help you avoid becoming frustrated when you are tempted to argue with a fool or at least one who you feel is acting like one.
Mr. Lee will be proud of you if you use the advice given to him by a very wise Buddhist monk years ago: "If you argue with a fool, you will leave the argument feeling like a fool."