Thursday, March 8, 2012

The amping of rhetoric and willful ignorance

Social Media has put me in an interesting position, one that leads often to my frustration. Many of my friends from college are very liberal... I was in some ways the token conservative. Many of my friends from Seminary are very conservative... I was in many way the token libertarian (although not quite as token anymore).

This means whenever anything happens... I get the rhetoric spew from both sides. And it disgusts me.

Do you know how many "wars" I've seen people talk about this week? I've learned that some of my friends hate and control women, and I've learned that some of my friends hate babies. I've learned that some hate the poor because they do X and that others hate the poor because they do Y.

Yesterday I wrote this: "Not everything in Politics is a "war". If the headline or tagline involves the phrase "the war on ______" the piece isn't primarily focused on teaching or convincing you - it will be focused on scaring and manipulating you."

Tonight I wrote this: "If your overblown rhetoric annoys and galvanizes the other side while offending those in the middle or the fence... you probably should refrain from using it. Don't call people names, especially in frustration. It tends to backfire."

And, of course, for thinking this I was shown to be an evil conservative or a gutless liberal... depending on which side I upset.

What frustrates me the most is this... I often know folks on both sides of an argument... and I know each side's argumentation... not their posturing, not their political rhetoric... but why they hold the positions they do. There are legitimate differences of opinions, there are different priorities... and these lead to differences.

But instead of knowing this, learning this, and letting the battle be over what values should take center stage, instead of battling over how best to accomplish goals... we fall to rhetoric and name calling. We engage in a willful ignorance of our political opponents and simply are reduced to vilification to try and sway people to an emotional tie to our position.

And it's disgusting.

And you know what -- it happens in almost every fight in this country. It happens not just in politics, but in our homes, in our congregations.

We do not love our neighbors who disagree with us. We do not love our political enemies and explain things in the kindest way. We do not take time to instruct, to plead. Instead, we worry about conquering and dominating.

God have mercy upon us all, but we are a mess.

1 comment:

Brown's wife said...

I think a growing mindset is that if you can understand where people are coming from, it means you are drinking the Kool-Aid. This is particularly true when matters that one considers abhorrent are involved. And I don't mean know what people say and thus "know where they're coming from," but legitimately be able to see things from another perspective and why they thus believe that their decision should be reached. This means that you must assume that what the other side is saying about their rationale is true, and that you cannot tell yourself that they don't really mean it or only think they do- for that is coloring things with your own lens again.