For quite some time now, our society has been slipping into some very bad habits. During the exceptionally long recent election cycle, clear thought and civility went into a tailspin. I had hoped for a recovery after the inauguration but, instead, the slope steepened. Why is political discourse so strident? And why have these attitudes carried over into so many other areas of our everyday lives?
While I hold some mainstream views, I am certain not everyone agrees with each and every one of them. That’s fine. I have no delusion of “converting” everyone to my way of thinking. I enjoy an intelligent discussion and welcome the opportunity to debate issues… but detest the way many people go about that today.
I have found that the majority of folks I talk to today on any given specific topic are relatively uninformed. Most are AWARE of the issue, many can recite the “talking points” of their side’s stance, but very few can actually discuss the facts and implications surrounding the issue. While it’s not a scientific study by any means, I’ve found that the majority of people have a shallow understanding of most issues… and have not really thought through the pros and cons for themselves… their position is not based on their own evaluation of the topic, it is based on “going along” with their political party or peer group.
When you press people for the rationale behind their position, many become very defensive. I suspect they realize they don’t KNOW why they are taking any particular stance and resort to repetition, avoiding the question, shifting the discussion to an irrelevant point, stating blatantly contradictory reasons, stoop to personal attacks, or just start shouting. It seems everyone feels an obligation to take a strong position on issues but have little actual basis for doing so. Too many people have delegated their “thinking” to others and are trusting the integrity of those decisions… to their own detriment.
I’m dismayed with the level of hypocrisy, as well. It isn’t difficult to find examples of people crudely denouncing the actions of others… say, lack of tolerance for an opposing position… while exhibiting the same behavior themselves. Even a modicum of thought would reveal how stupid that makes them appear.
We have become a society driven not by sound ideals but by the philosophy of “win at all costs”. Breaking the rules, bending the facts, even outright lying is OK if you win! The end justifies the means… who needs principles and morals?
“If it’s good for ME, it’s good… even if it isn’t good for the country… even if it comes at the expense of others… even if it is immoral or illegal… even if it doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have good reasons behind my decisions, if you don’t agree with me, I’m going to do everything I can to trash you and your reputation! I don’t want ANY opposition. EVERYBODY must conform to MY desires!!”
WE no longer act like we’re on the same team (country)… and have become losers.