Tuesday, July 16, 2013

What divides us ...

As I see Facebook posts, I'm constantly reminded of what divides us.  I see posts from my friends that bother me ... a lot.  This makes me sad because I enjoy our friendship despite our different viewpoints.  It seems we see things very differently and that bothers me because I know you and I are not so different on a personal level, even as we seem to disagree on specific political issues.

I know you well enough that I realize your personal perspectives are not the same as mine.  Fine.  I can understand and accept that.  I embrace such differences.  What bothers me is your insistence on certain things that raise red flags with me on a personal level.  We have ideological differences, of course, but must you push those differences into my face?  Must you provoke me to respond in ways that will inevitably divide us?  Is it that important for your personal position that you make me respond to your provocative statements?

Yes, I know that I've made my own provocative postings.  But I try, in the process, to leave open the door that other opinions can exist that differ with mine.  Rather than damning your position, I want you to try to consider, as I have, that opposing opinions can exist and have some substance.  They're not always dictated by ideology but are in fact positions of conscience that are worthy of respect, if not agreement.

If only polarized positions are allowed to exist, there can be no reconciliation, no compromise, no mutual understanding.  When only polar opposites are allowed, that ultimately leads to civil war and damnation of any opposing viewpoints.  We may not agree about everything, but surely we can find some common ground, and from there reach some position other than total condemnation of the "opposing" side.  Can we truly believe that anyone who thinks other than we do is some sort of ideological enemy, worthy only of contempt and, ultimately, elimination?  Is your position so based in reality that anyone who opposes your perspective is worthy only of contempt?  Are you really that confident in what you propose?  Are you willing to let me be the victim of your intolerance?

Surely you must see that that perspective is ultimately fascist and leads only to crimes against humanity?  If you truly feel that confident in your position, then I feel only sadness that you have alienated yourself from what is rational and reasonable.  A rational perspective admits the possibility of error.  I find that especially disturbing in people whom I consider to be friends.  Can you accept that opinions can vary on legitimate bases?  Can you truly tolerate other viewpoints?  Or do you feel that anything other than your viewpoint is anathema and worthy only of contempt and being stamped out under the bootheels of repression and dogma?  Is the comfort of a society where everyone agrees with you worth more than a society where debate is encouraged and different opinions not only tolerated but seen as necesary?

I understand that we see things differently.  I try not to view opposing viewpoints as wholly wrong, but some of them are distinctly problematic to me.  Is it necessary to force me take issue with you?  Must you throw our differences in my face?  Must you characterize my position as totally incorrect and yours as totally correct?  Admission of the possibility of error is an important pre-condition to a rational discussion. Without that, we can have no basis for discussion at all.

1 comment:

Matt Bunkers said...

Good points. I don't know the context or details of the discussions you are talking about (or with whom--and I don't need to know), but I agree on putting ourselves in other's shoes so we can better understand their perspective(s).