It is a problem of style before substance.

The quality of debate in America is at an all time low for various reasons.

People would rather win the argument than be correct. Political action is slow and cumbersome because representatives on both sides of the aisle refuse to compromise if the agreement would give credit to the other party. Information is readily accessible but rarely checked for reliability before it is passed on.

The health care debate is a case in point.

Those who argue against the new system at town hall meetings are called un-American. Those who rail against the plan call proponents Socialists, Fascists and even Nazis.

At what point in that exchange of ideas is common ground found?

Both sides search for weapons in the debate rather than trying to mold the system into a plan that could help the uninsured without bankrupting the country.

It's hard to find solutions when all you look for are problems.

The biggest problem with access to information today is the availability of one-sided "news" sources to suit each person's opinion.

There is no truth - only a set of facts that fall within personal belief systems.

Perhaps the most troubling issue is that people now intrinsically believe that anyone who disagrees with them is wrong.

Aristotle said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."

I can use my son as an example.

He recently asked my wife if she really believed God is real. She was shocked. We go to church each week, Bible school each summer and three years in Christian preschool and our son is an atheist.

Not really.

He had been praying for a big brother and God never gave him one. His conclusion was that God must not be real.

After some pretty serious theological discussion for a kindergartener, he realized that God is not a genie whose bottle you rub anytime you want something.

He wasn't an atheist after all. But he did have the wisdom to check his own beliefs and consider other possibilities.

This is exactly why many young people leave home after high school never to return to church.

Their beliefs had always been presumed upon them and when the fetters of parental control are lifted, they have a crisis of confidence.

Just as children who need to seek alternative answers so that they may be certain of their own reasoning, we all need to be able to seek the correct portions of arguments with which we generally disagree.

Francis Bacon said, "If a Man will begin with certainties, he will end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he will end in certainties."

Don't be afraid to listen to those whose opinions vary from your own. Don't consider you ideas the only path to enlightenment.

You'll be surprised at how satisfying it is to discover fallacy in your own arguments sooner instead of later.