The task for those of us on the Left is in part to better understand the traditions and significance of conservative thought which create the motivation for the Right’s “individuals-and-markets-first” approach to governing.
So too must we be both clearer about the motivations and values which drive our community-oriented philosophy, and more consistent in sharing those values. More information can only help lower the hyper-partisanship temperature, while diminishing both the knee-jerk inclinations and justifications for demonizing the Left.
THERE IS COMMON GROUND
Without appreciating the foundation from which we derive our own policies, we leave ourselves adrift and too-often isolated from fellow citizens who seek ends not all that different from our own. The failure, inability, unwillingness—call the reasoning what you will—for those of us on the Left to understand the emotional and psychological motivations of conservative principles and beliefs doesn’t help. I’m as guilty as the next in choosing to mock first, but until we can get past that tendency with all of its justifications, the wider the divide becomes.
Needless to say, the Right’s equally [and from our vantage point, much more] egregious approach in assessing the Left’s principles and beliefs contributes just as much to the polarization.
It’s surely the easier path for both sides—shooting fish in a barrel—but are the snark-driven “victories” all that meaningful? Shouldn’t more of the adults in the room act like the adults in the room?
In order to provide more meaningful answers, we on the Left have to demonstrate a willingness to at least consider the possibility that most of our fellow citizens on the Right are not marching lockstep with the blowhard rantings of some of the more notorious voices on that side. That requires just a bit of effort to attain a broader understanding about how those on the Right identify with those leaning in their same direction.
But if we can start to appreciate that the others (or at least most of them) most likely aren’t hell-bent on destroying our side, and are in fact seeking mostly what we on the Left are pursuing—albeit with different priorities owing to the inherent contrasts in how we think, perceive, believe, and feel—we might crack open a door or two. Conversations and cooperation remain options for all of us.
What this opportunity and awareness does provide is an occasional chance to actually listen to the genuine motivations, values, and beliefs others bring to the conversation, rather than pigeon-hole them into pre-determined categories as directed by “leaders” whose motivations are at best suspect. That latter option—relied upon routinely—is an undertaking which offers little hope of meaningful dialogue and cooperative efforts to solve the challenges we now face.
With awareness, however, comes opportunity. We’re now presented with new choices which have at least the potential to tone down the divisive rhetoric. That choice will also lead to a sounder appreciation for, and understanding of, the perspectives of those with whom we’ve been previously inclined to simply dismiss. Better outcomes for us all—while not assured—are much more likely than what present tactics offer.
Are we willing to insist on not just recognition of the efforts stemming from these certainly inconvenient truths about human nature and behavior, but the benefits and drawbacks as well? Can we? What happens if we don’t? [Duly noted: easy to ask, not so much when it comes to answering.]
Reality can be postponed by ideology only for so long. Each day that slips into the past with no consensus and no legitimate, broad-based, collective, and cooperative efforts to begin shaping our future [with at least an acknowledgment of the challenges], is one less day all of us—even the most ardent ideologues—will have available to plan for, adapt to, or change what we will all be dealing with.
How shall we explain to our children our numbing apathy and total disregard for the facts—the ones which will have left them with far fewer resources to deal with the consequences of our indifference and ignorance?
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Note to readers: In addition to my other blogs and writings here [see the Tabs above] and at Peak Oil Matters, I invite you to enjoy some brief excepts from my eBook political thriller:
The Tretiak Agenda
They began [here] on June 15, and will continue weekly throughout the summer
NOTE: This series runs on Thursdays. Enjoy the holiday weekend!
~ My Photo: from Fenway Park’s Monster seats – 04.19.14
Looking Left and Right:
Inspiring Different Ideas, Envisioning Better Tomorrows
Be the change you want in the world – Gandhi
The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm, but because
of those who look at it without doing anything – Albert Einstein
~ ~ ~
Our contrasting behaviors, beliefs, and ideologies are contributing factors to the very problems we’re trying to solve—the ones we must solve if our own ambitions and our hopes for a peaceful and prosperous world we leave to our children are to be well-served.
As each side bordering the political chasm digs in ever deeper to engage in skirmishes whose intensities and potential consequences seem to have no end point in sight, we should be wondering with greater urgency what sort of “community” will emerge from the wreckage. How are we preparing ourselves to pursue opportunities and provide for the well-being of our families when so much energy is dissipated in battles where nonsense is the primary weapon?
Assuming the future still matters to at least most of us, perhaps a momentary pause to consider where current choices will lead is called for….Ignoring legitimate real-world challenges, denying they exist, or making absurd, ignorant claims to defend unconscionable political tactics will not affect the arrival of those problems in the least. Widespread impacts will be following close behind. Do we continue the ideological battles, or decide to meet the challenges by cooperating as needed?
That there’s no chance whatsoever of gaining ground in any meaningful way seems to be routinely overlooked. So too do these battles offer nothing but the creation of more problems for us all in the years to come.