Communication

Commentary on the Facebook Discussion below.

Talk about a melting pot. We are it. We are in process of learning how, and I especially appreciate the input of “A” who expressed that reality so effectively — and maybe more importantly expressed the difference between “me and you as individuals” contrasted with “all of us as a population.” There is a big difference between these two levels of function. Recognizing this difference we can also recognize that the things we do not like about some population are emergent properties of the population level. I use that term because I want to emphasize that we are biological entities, and biology is organized according to emergent properties. Emergent properties are not labels to pin on any one member of the group they characterize. However, they may be characteristic of the group itself and therefore they may be very harmful (or helpful) to society. If they are harmful, we do need to recognize the harm that is being done. And, within our own groups, we also must recognize that whenever we behave according to the dictates of our group, we ARE (or may be if we don’t think about it) honoring and perpetuating ethics that we deplore. That’s why change is so difficult. For example, fighting for an end to war will never achieve the goal. Sorry all you rabid peaceniks but that’s a reality. Too many wounded losers remain. And it’s almost impossible in a warrior culture to get anyone to listen to what you are saying unless you are willing to fight for it. Or die for it without fighting. Then people notice.

A- “I didn’t realize when I joined the progressive movement that hatred and intolerance would just apply to different groups. I ultimately changed political affiliations because of views held toward my LGBT brothers and sisters and my mixed race family, as well as a host of other human rights issues. I just don’t understand how it is much different here on the left, sometimes. It’s US vs. THEM. I love my Christian friends. And although I hate the commercialism of the season, if it brings them joy to go to mass at midnight, how is it okay for me to stereotype them all as misled? Just trying to understand. If they are, as a group, insufferable, I still believe that I cannot judge each individual on advance. I hope for each that their belief system brings them peace and promotes peace. That is all. And it is possible.”

B-“My opinion is that (for reasons I don’t understand very well) our whole culture on all sides has bought into the idea that our problems are dichotomous, that we can resolve them by “winning” whatever argument (that, of course, is the essence of hatred and intolerance), and that the problems are serious enough that we have an obligation to try to resolve them. The latter is clearly true — both of the former ideas are easy to debunk, but most modern activists act as though they believe that our win/lose cultural ideal is the only way for us to save ourselves. In my opinion, this is no different from war, only on a more moderate scale. Maybe that’s how the ethic got started. I do remember when we ramped up the violence and war movies on TV over the past couple of decades. Ideas like this are imposed upon us by the culture – not invented by individual activists. And so it is all the more important that you are expressing a contrary view.”

A-“Well, thank you, Lynn (oops, that would be B) for not attacking me. I am an observer. I am often just trying to understand my observations.”

B-“You are welcome. I almost never attack people. However, in my opinion we are losing our country — especially our revolutionary rule of law that was set up to handle disputes in a way that would mostly avoid attacking people. That and our fetish with winning that gets in the way of our solving big problems. (Because no big problem is ever two-sided.) And we do have big problems, bigger than losing our country. I think these big issues are more important than little issues — important enough for us to discuss, and my comments I try to make discussable. If that were to happen (discussion), I think it would be worth the effort, even if people often assume I am attacking individuals when I am not (or I am unskillful and unsuccessful in making my points). If ever we were to all get together to try to resolve these issues rather than participate in them, then I think it would be worth punching a few holes in everyone’s half-full glasses (including mine). What’s the use of social media if we don’t use it to make the society better than it already is? I rejoice in the fact that most of my friends are really very tolerant of most of the things I try to say, and sometimes even try to help me say them.”

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