Television discussions among politicos and social commentators have reached a new low. Civil, measured debates are a thing of the past, replaced by nonstop harangues and interruptions. Many adopt a tactic of talking over their opponent, effectively shouting down the words of those with whom they disagree. Persons who do this lack confidence that their point of view can prevail on the basis of its wisdom.
The loud, personal battle aspect of news talk shows is a major reason I read most of my news, rather than watch it on television. The TV news is about itself, about the medium. It loves controversy in small bites, delivered with the subtly of a machine gun.
Good debate of any issue requires that each side be able to give its point of view, free from interruption by the opponent. In today's television debates, such courtesies are not honored. More often, they are trampled. Even children have better manners when arguing with one another. When adults engage in a litany of "did too! did not!" it is a sad commentary on the state of adult dialogues regarding important issues. Television news organizations appear to value the staccato noise over the thoughtful examination.
On every hot button topic there are pros and cons. Whether the issue is the military budget, Medicare, health care, the spiritual world, or a host of social matters, there are usually sensible, compelling arguments for countervailing points of view. To many, however, there is only one sensible point of view on every topic, and that point of view is theirs.
Logic and reason suggest our acceptance of a perspective is dependent most upon our personal biases, accumulated over a lifetime. Consider religion. It is difficult to imagine a topic on which more people in the world absolutely believe their approach is the correct one, discounting all others. Do people choose their religion because they believe it correct, or do they choose it because it agrees with them? Humans seem to lack an ability to see the world of spiritual beliefs from the perspective of another. We humans seem bound most often to the religion we were born into.
"You may be right" is a phrase seldom spoken or written in our society. Everyone has to be right about what they believe, always. We are unwilling to accept that our beliefs are a bundle we create of our own choosing. We all have to be right about God, guns, religion, politics, economics and social matters, all the time. We tend not to think the phrase "you may be right" should ever be uttered to one with whom we strongly disagree. "I could be wrong" is another phrase which should be used more often.
It is not necessary that we all agree on major topics, and it is unreasonable to expect others to always agree with us. Can we ever admit that another's point of view may be right, that our point of view may be wrong? Typical discussions about religion and politics seem to indicate otherwise.
Some may disagree strongly with my middling point of view. You may be right. I could be wrong.
© 2014, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.