Conversations That Divide
I’ve come to the conclusion that we are debating all wrong. My ears bleed when I experience a “discussion” that feels like an endless loop of comebacks in defense of the small team without any kind of dialogue about what’s best for the team at large. The exchanges are laced with fear-based reasoning’s. We shout from the polar-ends of the table. We speak only of our good and their bad. We excuse and rationalize our own bad decisions and then demonize the other side for making the exact same decision. Why, why, why do we accept and perpetuate this ridiculous method of verbal confrontation?
As quick as someone speaks of wearing a mask, about how selfish it is to walk around without one, the listener will say, “Well, what about the protestors? Many of them are not wearing masks and they are not walking six feet apart. Why is it okay for them but not for me? What about my rights?”
As quick as someone says that they are pro-life and unborn babies are a deal-breaker for voting, the listener will say, “What about systemic racism? Why isn’t that a deal-breaker? Or immigrants in cages? What about the people who are at high-risk for serious COVID complications? Doesn’t their life matter? Why is it that the only “life” that is a deal-breaker is the American unborn?”
As quick as someone says that kids should be back in school because they need to socialize, their parents need to get back to work, and their teachers can physically observe them for signs of abuse, the listener will say, “What if the teachers do not feel safe in this season of COVID? What if they feel their personal health is at risk in a physical classroom?”
As quick as someone says we need to keep the city locked down to slow the spread of the virus, people are dying, the listener will say, “I can’t pay my bills. I’m will end up on the street. I will lose my business.” Or, “Mental illness is on the rise, suicide is on the rise, abuse is on the rise. Only 2% percent of people diagnosed with the virus die. We must open back up.”
As quick as someone says black lives matter, we need to put an end to systemic racism and systemic oppression, the listener says, “But what about Marxism and defunding the police? Do you want to defund the police?”
As quick as someone says something about Trump, the listener will say, “But what about Biden?”
We argue from the extremes. We aren’t comfortable integrating the bad with the good or writing a fair list of positives and negatives. Not in ourselves. Not in others. Nor are we comfortable with discernment—the ability to judge, grasp, and comprehend in order to render a fair decision—if what we discover hits one of our own negatives. We are not comfortable admitting our flaws or the flaws of our chosen team. For good reason; if the information gets out about our short-comings or bad behaviors, there are those that may use the information against us. People might abandon us. Our team might lose. It’s embarrassing to look weak.
It’s also disheartening to believe in a cause, or a leader, or a friend, only to discover they have questionable behaviors. We want to believe we are involved with the right people. It seems easier and less humiliating to ignore or rationalize bad behavior than it is to judge in a discerning way (post coming soon, Judge Not Lest You Be Judged).
The problem with ignoring our own negatives while highlighting our positives, is that we become a lop-sided story. We are not authentic or trustworthy. We are merely walking salesmen who peddle tainted interests and half-truths, spreading fear wherever we go.
Everyone has an agenda, whether it is greed, survival, power, comfort, success, validation, authority, fear, or fairness. I cannot remember a year in my life when there has been so much ugliness all at once. So much confusion. So much arguing. So much INDIVIDUALISM. Everyone arguing for their personal rights instead for what IS right. What IS right is to fight for our nation at large. Our fellow human beings. Our nation is embroiled in self-imposed chaos and our solution seems to be to double-down on fear tactics, shame and conspiracy theories. Argue louder and harsher from the extremes. Is a second civil war on the horizon?
The media instigates this type of discourse, the kind that celebrates their team’s pros and deaminizes the other team’s cons. I think we need to start calling them out on this. It’s making us dumb. And hateful. The politicians go along with it and sometimes encourage it. They whip their respective team into a fear frenzy with selfish propaganda and we are the ones caught in the middle wondering what’s true or who we can trust. The storm is so blinding that we don’t realize we are allowing them to manipulate us in such an ugly way. It doesn’t feel like there is a Team USA anymore. It feels like the enemy is within and we have turned on each other with no end in sight.
I really don’t want to continue to live this way. Do you?
To watch the correlating podcast on this topic, go to the “Podcast Video Library” tab on this website to see the YouTube version of Episode 38, “Seeking Truth Instead of Just Shouting Our Opinions,” by @TwoStepsAheadPodcast Highlighting the stuff we’ve stepped in so you don’t have to! Listen on all major podcast platforms (Spotify, iTunes, Pandora, iHeart, Stitcher) and watch weekly on public access TV in Santa Clarita, CA, Long Beach, CA and Pasadena, CA.
Tara Hoke Schiro is a Los Angeles based author, podcaster, blogger, and designer for Wear Your Character. All can be found at www.TaraSchiro.com