At this time with so many challenges facing humanity, it is more crucial than ever that we band together using objective means of measurement and clear thinking in identifying, understanding, and finding solutions to our shared problems. Autonomy of the individual is very important, for our freedoms allow us to be fulfilled and happy. However, the public sphere cannot and should not be populated by subjective beliefs, if we are to maintain our civilizations and quality of life. This blog is dedicated to examining the political, religious, psychological, and philosophical aspects of our modern discourse in the public sphere, endorsing that which is beneficial, and exposing that which is not.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Can We Talk?

Everyone knows that there are three things you don't talk about in polite conversation: religion, bodily functions, and politics. I don't know if this is from Emily Post's book of etiquette, or not. But, as is the case with many of her proposed rules of civilized behavior, I think that this idea has its necessary exceptions. In fact, I believe that our continued success as a nation and a species depends upon having an open and honest conversation about at least politics, maybe religion, but definitely not bodily functions.

It seems that for quite some time now in America that the norm has been to largely ignore politics, that is unless the media leads us by the nose to a particular story. We are distracted by novelties and trivialities from the things that truly matter, that have an immediate and future effect upon our lives. We are more concerned with TV, movies, music, video games, cars, sports, the lives of celebrities, and the scandals of politicians than we are about the laws being made and enacted. Advertisement companies work 24/7 to convince us that there is a hole in our lives that can only be filled by their product. Meanwhile, of the minority of us who actually vote, an even smaller minority actually pay attention to what our representatives are doing in the offices into which we placed them. Our government is intended to be of the people, by the people, and for the people. But, the general apathy of the people has transformed the government into one that is of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations.

I do support capitalism. Don't think that I don't. But, the problem is that capitalism is based on capitalizing on the greed of mankind. More money is earned through more effort. So, more effort is given. It works very well. But, the problem is that there is no check inherent in the system to allow for the individual rights of those who make up the system. This encourages less than moral practices in the economic sphere. The check upon this system is you and I via the government, be it federal, state, county, or city. The government is the people. When we are apathetic, and don't take the time to inform ourselves, be active in the process, and hold our representatives accountable, those who lobby, and buy, and wheedle, and make back room deals take control.

Our Founding Fathers, being greatly influenced by the Enlightenment, placed a premium upon reason. They believed that it is the only objective means of determining the truth or validity of a belief, practice, or idea. This is illustrated by quotes from many of these men from various sources. They spent endless hours discussing every aspect of our fledgling government. Our governing document, the Constitution of the United States of America, which has stood the test of time because it is a product of careful deliberation, is one product of this reasoning. Using reason necessitates having a basis for a belief or opinion. One can argue strictly on the basis of logic. But, the strongest arguments are those which present facts and evidence to support claims. When people argue subjectively, that is from opinion or belief with no evidentiary basis, they talk past each other. This, of course, settles nothing, and more often than not ends in hostility. I believe that this is the impetus for the tradition of not discussing the 3 things mentioned. Those who argue without providing facts and evidence to support their claims are showing nothing but a prejudiced attitude. So, what follows is a contest of wills, that is not even intended to serve any purpose but the inflation of the egos of those arguing. Surely, if one possesses evidence for one's claims, then that evidence will be shown to support those claims. When one has evidence and/or a logical basis for one's argument, then one's opponent must take these into account. All that is, and should be, the basis of discussion. If it is the basis of all parties involved, and they are interested in finding truth, then the discussion will be fruitful.

When we don't have the open debate and discussion concerning politics, that is when we are in trouble. We will not agree on everything. That is why we must have debate. We must be informed to have effective debate. By informing ourselves, we are as a byproduct keeping tabs on our elected representatives. Informing ourselves does not mean being spoon fed by a partisan source. It means canvassing the media, comparing viewpoints, when possible bypassing the media going straight to a reference source. For example, if someone is blasting this or that law being debated in Congress, go look at it. Too many of us are guilty of listening to only one side, of maintaining an ideology blindly, often for no other reason than our heritage. People think, "well my daddy was a Republocrat, so I'm a Republocrat too". Is being a Republocrat in your best interests? Why or why not? If you can't back your answer with some logic or evidence, then you owe it to yourself and your fellow man to find some valid reason to hold to that position. And, if you can't find anything objective to support it, abandon your position.

So, instead of being offended, and demanding that the subject not be broached. Act as our forefathers suggested that we must to maintain our freedoms, our way of life, our ideals. Engage one another, be informed, be active, find the proof that backs your claim, and boldly declaim it. You can rest assured that I will. It's the least duty I can perform for my country, as it is yours.

1 comment:

  1. Come now, why the hate on talking about bodily functions?
    In some senses, discussing uncomfortable bodily controversies tie in with other debates. Do women have rights to their body or does the right belong to the fetus?
    Of course, I am getting passed what you mean by that, but in general I strive to be vulgar in order to dilute the attitude of "high class" or "too good for that kind of conversation." If someone is uncomfortable with a topic, blame the person, not the topic. I think that there are many taboo things to talk about that are actually very good for you.

    Now... as I've gotten distracted from the point of your post, of course I agree. When I first thought about this very thing it absolutely horrified me that we, the democratic model for other democracies, think that talking about politics is taboo.
    I hate to be one-sided because I usually try to be very fair, but I think that direct blame can go to the Republicans here. I blocked my family from my Facebook page because they are the kinds of extremist Republicans that listen to Coulter and Limbaugh. It has become a bad thing to talk about because people like this DON'T talk; they preach.
    We have completely lost the enlightenment philosophy of debating and testing ideas. American education is in the shitter and the ease of manipulation which politicians exploit the horde is just gut-wrenching. I mean... yeah, I don't think Obama is a bad president at all, but would he have been president if he wasn't able to convert an apathetic horde? No way.
    Gore lost largely because he is a boring speaker...all of these absolutely stupid reasons why people and ideas are running our country. So, to tie this into religion, I fear for our future because of dogma rather than because of secularism. People can debate me on this if they want, but people have become a lot more sheeplike since the enlightenment.