Discourse has become a lose-lose situation these days.
Confirmation bias is the norm.
- Everyone assumes the worst in the words of people they hate.
- No one takes time to understand each other’s point of view.
- People argue past each other, not realizing they’re debating about different things.
- People conflate unreasonable groups with reasonable ones, e.g. actual white supremacists with run-of-the-mill conservatives.
If we keep at it, we’ll only deserve the increasingly polarized environment we’ve let happen.
A recent article in Areo Magazine has a good, succinct take on how we should reset the way we approach discourse:
Even when we are talking to people whose general stance we despise, we need to take the time to trace their ideas back, to find the last point at which we can agree with them, to, as the telling phrase puts it, understand where they are coming from so we can offer a different path from there. Very few of our fellow human beings are motivated by pure evil or ignorance. Very few are always and irrevocably wrong. We need to do the work of sifting out the good ideas from the bad and for that we will have to be willing to examine ideas, not personalities, to look not simply at the character of the speaker but at what is actually being said.
My only addition to this is that no matter how strongly we feel we’re right, we need to go back to giving people time and space to learn and update their own opinions.Posted on 2017-09-15