Is anyone else bored with the whole liberal vs. conservative thing? I mean no disrespect to my many good friends on both sides of that equation, but I swear it’s gotten bad. It seems like if I could write interactively in real time about the color of the sky, there would be sharply contrasting liberal views and conservative views as to the exact hue — of the same sky, at the same moment in time.
And there would be no agreement reached or no acknowledgment that different people in different places may be seeing different refractions of light from varying intensities and angles. Ever.
Like an email I got from a reader that could have been a propaganda primer on what a diehard liberal should say to a diehard conservative. I thought, who is this guy talking to? Others, depending on the subject matter are directed toward a flaming liberal. I get them both ways, and a recent commenter even suggested I get off the fence. What fence?
Again, I mean no disrespect, but what’s the point? I pose this question fully acknowledging that the question, alone, may cost me a couple readers. But clearly, the challenges we face as a society are more complex than a simple linear equation.
Not even black and white photos are only black and white.
I do get the origins of the two trains of thought. As an English major who studied French for years, I am probably a hair more well versed in the evolution of liberalism than conservatism. I am trying to make up for that by slogging through “The Conservative Mind” (admittedly in tiny snippets as it’s not exactly thrilling reading), but, even as I do, I question whether a continued focus on only these two ideologies is still useful.
I can see how they were useful — such as back, back, back in the day when information traveled slowly and usually by word of mouth because so few people could read or access books and newspapers. Back then, I can see wanting to hear the information shaped in way that “felt” right based on one’s own narrow view and set of experiences. Hearing information from a perspective that “felt” right would have helped to make sense of a world few knew much about.
Before the proliferation of mass access to information, public issues were easily framed in simple for-or-against frameworks. For or against the king. For or against revolution. For or against taxes.
But we now know enough to know it’s just not that simple anymore. Or at least most of us have ample access to enough information to be able to conclude that’s is just not that simple anymore. Quite literally, we have the technology to be more nuanced in our thinking. We also have enough accumulated history behind us to see the pitfalls of being too dependent on linear thinking.
Besides wondering if anyone else is bored with the whole liberal/conservative ideological war, I also wonder if people understand their brains are actually wired to cling to belief systems and ideologies, even in the face of facts showing realities to the contrary. As people read that statement, liberals are thinking conservatives ignore facts to support ideology all the time, and conservatives are thinking liberals are the more guilty party.
But even those thoughts are part of our inherent wiring, too. We are wired to think “it’s the other guy that does that, not me.” Scientists theorize that we do this to protect ourselves from experiencing “cognitive dissonance” when our realities and our beliefs are not in sync.
Which is where this whole thought gets weird for me.
We have scientific information that tells us we tend to ignore and even shape information to suit our beliefs rather than our realities — but still we do it.
Why? At this point, the diametrically-opposed, nonsensical tug-of-war that the liberal and conservative movements in America have become is crippling progress on both the state and federal levels. Solutions to most of the challenges we face as a state and as a country are there for the finding, but it seems like we’d rather play ideological tug-of-war than work toward them from a variety (meaning more than two) of angles.
Is anyone else sick of it?