We are a weak species. Most of our fellow species on this planet manage to settle their differences through ritualized battle or the setting of intra-pack dominance order. One would think that the higher functioning the species is on the cognitive functioning scathe more that group of animals would be to face one another and rationally iron out their differences. After all, we are the most intelligent creatures on this planet. We can all talk to each other. Even if we don't speak the same language, our computers will translate for us. We know that the pen and the word is mightier than the sword.
Then if this is true, how have we screwed up so badly? How have we gotten to the point that we speak around one another in our government? How has it come to the point where, even in forums like newsvine, we seek out those who think like ourselves, in order to validate our views and beliefs rather than challenge them? We are all guilty. We seek out like groups. My fifteen nations are littered with the obvious leanings of the philosophy I believe; American Progressives, Left of Center, Obamavine tells the readers of my columns where my politics lie. I try to join a number of nations that draw both progressives and conservatives and try to engage in regular debate with other thinkers. But even I stay away from the conservative nations when determining the nations to join.
This has become an area of concern to me. I've heard from a number of viners who will not join a nation simply because individuals have membership in that nation whose views they abhor. I must disagree passionately with this view. It is far more important to belong to nations with opposing views than to always have your views validated. It is more important for people to attempt to change one another's views with the strength of their ideas rather than the vitriol of their hatred. There are ideas across the spectrum on every topic, whether political, religious, rights, science, etc. Ideas make us grow. Disagreement makes us think critically.
We have to demonstrate dialogue when we differ, for if we don't, those who represent us will certainly work toward opposite ends. Our government fails to function because they truly do not talk to, or listen to, the opposition. Washington, D.C. and the 50 state capitals are each fully entrenched battlefields with two armies strategizing and attacking and retreating at specific times. The battle engages over every issue. If one side takes a position, the other side takes the opposite position. It makes no difference if the position was originally that of the party now opposing it.
Our politics are, unfortunately, born of the hatreds and fears that all of us have. When we feel that there are only absolutes on every issue; when we are convinced that those who oppose us are stubborn or bigoted or just ignorant and refuse to interact constructively with them, we are telling our representatives who work for us, to follow that example.
Perhaps if we spend more time in constructive discussion and less in vitriolic accusation, we can change our political dialogue. There is a place we can meet and we will find it through the power of words.