As a nation, we are not headed in a common direction. Both Presidential campaigns make obligatory statements celebrating our alleged goodness, decency, and shared purpose. The image above suggests multiple avenues for heading in the same general direction. But a more accurate image would portray the arrows heading in contrary directions.
As we listen to the rationales people provide for their intended votes, we must acknowledge that the frames people apply to their experiences and aspirations are polymorphic, conflicted, and, in general, antagonistic.
So how should we respond to those with whom we disagree deeply?
- Wait until those with whom we have profound disagreements to all die? Not going to work.
- Use our rhetorical skills to persuade our opponents of the error of their ways. Not going to happen. (Consider the important informal logic literature about deep disagreements.)
- Continue to fight vigorously with those with whom we disagree. Toward what end? Fighting non-stop is a strategy to where?
- Realize that crazy as they may seem to us, our perspectival opponents are not going to go away so compromising with them, as odious as it seems, may be our most sensible strategy.
Let me guess. You lean toward favoring Option #2 above. I know. I feel the same way. But I simply do not believe in the healing power of rational discourse in many instances.
But if we wish to try to have fruitful conversations with those with whom we have fundamental discord, we need fresh arguments. Even when I disagree with what I read on Alternet, I often find them provocative and therefore useful. For example, take a look tomorrow night, as the votes are counted, at a list of ballot initiatives affecting inequality in various states published on that website. Perhaps you will encounter some fact or some argument there that just might break through to a person who otherwise would be persistently pushing our community in a direction contrary to your preferences.