♫ Hello from the other siii-iide ♪

I'm gonna begin by tagging up Zach's last blog for two reasons:

1) It's a good reminder for all of us. If you think it doesn't apply to you, stop, think about it again just to make sure, then go back and re-read and think about it again. If you are still sure it doesn't apply to you, then congratulations, maybe you actually are better than the rest of us!

2) It provides a decent opening for the rest of my blog and saves me from having to write an introduction for my own blog post. Heyo!

This year we get to suffer through the presidential election cycle and, per the usual, the intensity has ramped up a bit due to the presidential election. This year it caused me to notice something. It's nothing new. It has been there all along. I just noticed it for the first time this year and I realized it was a bit odd.

The opposition was completely and utterly wrong on every single issue. Not just slightly misguided, but so wrong it was almost unbelievable.

On every... single... issue. They were all wrong, all the time, every time.

And that's what struck me as odd. All wrong all the time?!? Every time? On everything? Huh. I've never met anyone actually like that. Usually we can agree on something somewhere, or at least admit that there is a chance, however small, that we are mistaken. We don't really see this kind of dichotomy between those who are right and those who are wrong anywhere else in human affairs. Heck, even Southern Baptists can agree with the Catholics and even the Muslims on some things! But Democrats and Republicans? Polar opposites. To one, every direction is North, the other knows for a certainty that every direction is South.

Weird.

How is it that one group knows all the right answers on topics as diverse as the effect of burning fossil fuels on the global climate, the morality of capital punishment, and the proper way to relate to foreign nations, while the other group has precisely the wrong answers to every single topic in this broad range?

Curiouser and curiouser.

If you'll venture with me down this rabbit hole a little bit more...

I understand that politicians are going to do what it takes to get elected. Hence, they have to be right about everything and their opponents wrong about everything. But I want to explore why the general American public has bought into this conceit. Let me give you my thought on it:

We are more concerned with "winning" than we are with what is actually true.

Stop and think about it with me for a moment. How do you react to those who align with the opposite political party as you? When you hear their idiotic ideas promoted, does it make you angry? Do you consider the people or the ideas on the other side of the aisle stupid? Hate-filled? Unpatriotic? Have you ever analysed the ideas of the opposition with the words "I don't understand it, that's just dumb! How can they be so stupid as to not see that!?!"

Judging from the sample group of people-who-care-even-a-little-bit-about-politics-with-whom-I-have-interacted, I'm gonna guess that, if you care at all about politics, your answer to at least one of these questions was "Yes" (If you do care about politics and your answer wasn't "yes," don't feel bad... it's not your fault, I probably just wrote bad questions).

These reactions aren't what you would expect from someone who is truly interested in the truth, rather than protecting a position. If we were really concerned for the truth,it seems to me, we would be listening to divergent ideas with much more humility. Given the very likely possibility that we don't know everything and are probably wrong in some of our beliefs we should be listening carefully to try to understand and learn instead of listening with the sole purpose of tearing down the argument.

If we truly believe we are correct in our views and we truly want to convert other people to our side, our methods must be gentle and persuasive, not strident, shrill, insulting, or mocking (I'm looking at you talk radio and cable news). We must move past slogans, talking points, and memes (a few words on a picture does not an argument make), and embrace the difficult task of actual dialogue and mutual respect among disagreeing parties. If we can't do this we are not interested in what's right. Only in winning.

As for me? I know what I believe. I know that some of my beliefs are wrong. I just don't know which ones yet and I need some assistance to figure it out. Any help is appreciated! Oh, and hello, from the other side.1

  1. Yes, I just used a line from a pop song as a mere click-bait title for a blog post with only the barest of tie-ins to the topic being discussed. You wouldn't have come here if I titled it "Be Nice and Reasonable to Each Other" would you have? :)