You don’t answer. You don’t think about it.
Each day your news feeds, your dashboards, your phones, and your readers overflow with unfounded opinions, random images captioned anti-this or anti-that, facts that aren’t facts, ideas that aren’t ideas, and, of course, claims that have no backing backing.
It’s so easy, isn’t it? Just look at that picture: look at how confident that smiling man is; and what’s that below him - aggressive words relating to something you oppose? Well, press the share button! Reblog it! Tell your friends! You don’t even need to comment with justification or say anything explaining what that actually means!
You feel safe. Why? Because people have learned through pain and experience that challenging you is futile and only makes conflict.
Today, we see discussing alternatives and blindly attacking people as one and the same. Don’t believe me? Remember that kid from your class or job, the one who disagrees with what people say, and won’t shut up - he just goes on and on about this point, throwing out random information willy-nilly. Who cares if the three miles around a Brazilian factory for electric cars is now a chemical wasteland!? And finally the boss or teacher has to threaten him until he stops.
You’ve heard that conversation a lot of times. Now, either all the people you’ve seen do that are a-social idiots with defiance issues, or some of them - not all but some - were trying to express a different point of view and wanted to show why their point of view was different. Maybe you’ve seen that, but isn’t it odd how that always seems to end the exact same way?
I will tell you what you haven’t seen: ever heard a Democrat, while debating policy with a Republican, concede and change their beliefs as a result of that conversation? No, of course you haven’t. Because when we say anything at all, nowadays, we aren’t talking. Obviously we are disagreeing: Our mouths speak for ourselves, for our supporters, and we don’t respond to anyone’s statement or ask for their evidence. Furthermore, they do not feel they ought to explain any evidence supporting another point of view.
We don’t listen. Everyone’s yelling, nobody’s heard. Result: nothing changes and people think less. Wonderful, we are politically correct. How far we’ve come!
What is the purpose of a debate that sways nobody. We have a term for two people talking separately about a topic, many in fact: lecture, presentation, talk, sermon. Debate is different and so is discussion, because there we seek to educate our audience AND our opponents of our ideas, and through our similarities and differences, we might just make something better, or learn something new, or find a solution to our problems.
Where is that? When does that happen in the real world? In the real world, we put photos online. They state facts like: Barrack Obama was not born in the United States or Mitt Romney’s economic plan benefits the people of China more than us. You’ve absolutely seen those two claims, and let me ask you something: have you ever seen evidence? Have you ever seen somebody comment on that post with ideas to the contrary, who was received warmly, and their thoughts taken into account. Or have you seen political blogs with hundreds of comments, and not one, NOT ONE, responds to any other.
The commentary element of Facebook keeps large volumes of individuals from responding to one another. In addition, nobody wants to look bad to other people.
So we see the picture that says Barrack Obama is an illegal alien, and we do one of two things. We either agree or we disagree.
Here is what we don’t do:
We don’t ask how a person knows that.
We don’t ask why this is a belief.
We don’t seek out evidence for either point of view.
We don’t give our opinion on the subject.
We don’t think about it.
In fact, what we do when we see something like that is decide if it works well with what we already believe. Then, based only only that rationale, we accept or deny it, treat it as fact or fraud.
Stated like that, does it make sense?
So here is the deal:
This August, when you see something make a claim, stop and think about it. Don’t just scroll down. Does it makes sense? Do you have questions? If so, say so, or ask the kind provider of this news to explain themselves.
If a person says that conservative political belief hinges on the poor remaining poor, stop. Who said that? Was it a conservative or a knowledgeable individual? Or was it George Carlin, a comedian? Do the conservatives believe this? Does that make sense? Why would they?
And then, is this a presentation of fact or just plain bunk. If it is bunk, debunk it. Respond and don’t be afraid.
Check the Facts.
Examine the Thought Behind Them.
Instead of shutting up, let’s engage. Let’s actually have a conversation. Clearly that person wanted to talk, why force you to look at their ideals otherwise? If someone comes at you, and says they have freedom of speech, and that you cannot take that away, then here is what you do: you tell them they absolutely do, but so do you, and that neither of you have propriety over what is, and is not, reality.
That only facts can do that.
Some people say it’s time to stop listening and start thinking. Good for them. Great, really. It’s a start, much like going to bed when tired is a start. But the day has to come. It’s time to stop just listening and just thinking.
In Serious August, we are going to listen, think, and discuss.