The real divide

Creativity comes from two seemingly disparate ideas working together in a fruitful new way. Disney characters plus theme rides = Disneyland. A touch screen plus a phone = the iPhone.

JP, you and I have blogged a lot about trying to get the right to understand the left, and if the right would just wake up to real facts, they would know the truth. But we know this: the two sides have fundamentally different ways to view the world. We also know that facts are not enough to change anyone’s mind; people make choices based on culture, guts and emotions. The dichotomy is not simply left versus right. Each side has as part of its duty to preserve itself, and that cannot change. In fact, what has happened recently is that each wing has improved its ability to justify its existence and see a little more narrowly.

Islam needs to come to terms with itself, it is in chrysies as far as any sane person can tell. The moderate Muslims are embarrassed about extremists who shoot people or bomb them or even plot to. Moderate Christians feel the same way about their radical brethren who vote for crazy people, or single-issue candidates claiming to want only to stamp out abortion, or keep marriage between the sexes, or slice the government in half. No wonder Republican turnout is low. You told me that more Illinoisans voted for Obama in the recent primary than for Romney, though it was not widely reported. Republican apathy, while good for the Dems, is bad for politics, and for society really.

What we need is for the each of the sides to listen to their own kin. If you claim to be in a group, don’t reject your own outright! We need for neighbors to actually talk with each other. We need students to take Rachel’s Challenge. We need churches to discuss what and why they believe. Priest Martin Bell said, “The only thing worse than a dead faith is a dead doubt, which would about as soon kill the sprit as not.” That polite respect for another’s beliefs need not always cut off discussion; rather we must use our brains to be both polite and analytical. That isn’t to say we will all agree, but the world needs to rekindle the value that the person beside them might just have something meaningful and insightful going on. Instead, we reinforce our ideas, which too often leads to ignorant steadfastness.

Sure, to what I would describe as a thoughtful conservative, it appears the Republicans have two (okay, four) lousy options this season, but they have themselves to blame. Though I love the infighting, they will need to coalesce around one of those, umm, candidates. There are capable Republican politicians (Dick Luger is one I can name, Olympia Snow and others who are getting out of the biz). But these people only get elected by actual votes. The Republicans will have to look to Congress, who is at record low approval numbers, not the White House this time around. I am not claiming that real dialogue must always lead to moderation, but it does generally lead to wisdom.


About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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One Response to The real divide

  1. JP says:

    Jim, I basically agree with everything you say. (And being the broken record I am, I would add that the powerful monied interests like the status quo and will spent to the hilt to discourage real dialogue.) It also puts me in mind of the lyrics from two Bruce Cockburn songs, and as we named our blog from one of his lyrics, I’m quoting them here:
    From Maybe the Poet:
    Male female slave or free/Peaceful or disorderly
    Maybe you and he will not agree/But you need him to show you new ways to see

    Don’t let the system fool you/All it wants to do is rule you
    Pay attention to the poet/You need him and you know it

    And from maybe my favorite Bruce lyric Free to Be:
    Why don’t you cool out/Can it be so hard
    to love yourself without thinking/someone else holds a lower card

    Grow up you/Grow up me
    Grown together/Free to be

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