I recently posted this statement on a variety of social media platforms.
I’ve recently started following political groups and commentary. There is a very strong current of tribalism infecting many people and making conversations almost impossible. Ideas matter and disagreements are both inevitable and good if they lead to better understanding. But the hatefest I am witnessing is dangerous so I’m hoping to find ways of encouraging civility in discussions. While this may be akin to talking to the weather, I’m going to try.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The obvious one is the increasing level of hatred with its smoldering violence lurking in the background and sometimes erupting into the foreground. I watch with dismay those scenes of crowds filled with screaming people, hate-filled placards, calls for “death to…..fill in the blank”, and all the rest of the angry calls that seem to amount to “give me what I want or else”.
So I watch and ponder. Politics in particular is a battleground whereby opinions seem most intransigent and therefore dangerous. This is because they can be acted upon through governments. The ability to impose viewpoints on our social structures via the law is a potent motivator. I too often feel the attraction of making the world match my wishes. So I think about those wishes.
I remember as far back as high school being curious about political views. Mine have shifted more than once as I learned new things about political philosophies and current events. I have voted for every mainstream political party at one time or another, and some lesser known ones as well. I was generally motivated by what I thought was the best option at a given point in time. Sometimes I was wrong.
It is this last point woke me up about my opinions. Sometimes I can be wrong. For a long time, this was a serious concern…ah, youth. But now I am ok with it since new information and changing situations often render old views moot. So it has become helpful for me to remember that I can make mistakes, assume things, have biases. As long as I am honest with myself and others about what I know and don’t know while being willing to listen as well as talk, there can be an exchange of information. It doesn’t mean I will change my mind nor that of others, but it makes for a better meeting ground.
It’s hard to imagine a placard reading “death to cherished opinions so we can learn something and make life better!”. But one can dream.