WASHINGTON, October 29, 2013 — Half of America thinks the other half is crazy, bad, or just plain wrong.
How has our national melting-pot been fractured so badly? Is it possible to meet the other half halfway? Can either side convince the other to see things their way?
Detractors of our republican democracy employ dark designs to divide us. They use human weakness to win power. They abuse our innate intellectual blindness to make idiots of us.
Why do we allow it? Because both sides see what they want to, not necessarily what is.
If America is ever to exit this mess, the blinders must come off. We cannot allow the current crisis to continue. We must see our shortcomings and admit our failures.
We all share human failings that impede the good in America. Both sides assume the other is more selfish. Both are overconfident about their relative truths. We all think others agree with us more than they really do. We mistake winning for moral rightness. We are all more fallible than we feel.
Left and right make the mistake of parsing plural options as one piece, instead of carefully considering each argument’s merit in its own right. We ignore the possibility of truth if it comes from them.
We look for confirmation instead of correctness. We see connections where there is only coincidence. We see ourselves as less biased than them, but blame them for their bias. Both sides see slant in every report, when it exists on all sides. We believe untruths because our beliefs demand them to be true.
Both are bored by the banal. We are seduced by sound bite, transfixed by image. We crave sensation, remembering and repeating the bizarre while ignoring mundane details that matter. Everyone is overimpressed by humor. These factors may explain Joe Biden.
We remember the past imperfectly. Whether left or right, it used to be better, or worse, than it really was. We claim to have been precient back then, when we actually had no idea it would end up like this.
We forget feelings often matter more to us, and our opponents, than facts. We assume outcomes reflect our individual will, blind to the men behind the curtains, playing us like puppets.
All fall prey to peer pressure. Neither is free from stereotyping the other. We are prejudiced by appearances, overlooking the person inside the package. We view ourselves as unique individuals, our adversaries as mere mechanical robots. Blanket condemnation of our opponents denies the very real individual differences in each group. We treat others who seem to be with us better than those who don’t. This guarantees they never will. Is this the strategy that wins?
Yet all of us, yes, every one of us, has the irresistable urge to resist anyone and anything that denies our dreams of self-determination. We are born rebels. This may be our only saving grace.
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