Saturday, February 14, 2009
© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
In July of last year, we generated a piece which asked, “Does everyone necessarily have a point of view?” At that time, we were so tired of hearing everyone take a rigid stand, on one side or the other in the presidential candidate debate, that we were about to scream.
We’ve since concluded that the question need not be directly answered, because the point of view need not always be expressed. Additionally, in a group setting, it need not dictate your effort to contribute to a common goal through collaboration.
How did the discussion of where we are headed as a nation become so acrimonious? Although many say that political campaigns have always been down, dirty, and nasty, for some reason, we feel that more sewage has recently overflowed into our drinking water.
Some years ago, a documentary aired exploring LBJ’s inheritance of the Vietnam War. We mentioned to a colleague that, despite the fact that several of us had served in the Army during that period, we did not fully understand the forces in operation at the time.
Our colleague immediately inquired as to the “point of view” of the film maker.
Since then, we’ve been asking ourselves whether everyone necessarily has a point of view.
We observed this reactionary phenomenon most recently during the debate about the economic stimulus package. In the political arena, party loyalists appear incapable of finding anything good about the positions of the other party.
We initially thought of entitling this piece, “The Dangers Associated with Defining Something by Its Least Liked Component,” Or “Let Me Introduce You to My Ugly Wife.”
Is the recognition of any positive attributes of the opposing party’s position such a fatal thing to do in drafting legislation?
In a previous piece, we presented the views of a fictional citizen and inquired as to whether that individual’s views fell within the range of acceptable positions for either political party.
We raised some rhetorical questions regarding one’s identification with certain political parties, and examined potential positions that might be taken by a third independent party.
One of the positions was that of mandatory service in the armed forces, by all citizens, to defend our nation. Some readers felt that we were advocating a return to slavery, and branded us totalitarian pigs. Some others assumed that we had taken a position in line with Osama bin Laden and that we were not patriotic.
It is not unusual for some of our readers to assume that simply because we mention someone’s name, or quote them on an issue, we support their position.
That experience also highlighted something said by another writer. He noted that in taking a moderate or centrist position, one does not receive some degree of praise from either side. Rather, one has to fend off attacks from both.
Perhaps that’s why we get so little accomplished in the political arena these days, and why partisanship appears to rule.
Every day, negative and outlandish allegations are put out there about virtually every move by every elected official.
This junk is just that; even if it does appeal to our emotional side. We should all be concerned when our innermost “fears” so strongly invade the national discourse, and begin to define who we are.
We have to get beyond our personal issues. We here at the Institute have often said that we do not care where people come out, as long as they engage in a reasoned thought process.
Reason and common sense, not to mention the seriousness of the issue, dictate that all of us be able to find something acceptable in a proposal of this size.
As the professor noted to Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, there are issues bigger than those which we now face, and which have a longer term impact.
So the next time that you read or hear a proposal from someone across the aisle, try to avoid processing it from your point of view. Try to avoid assuming that the writer has a particular point of view.
Simply view it as information.
The next time that you hear something with which you disagree, assume for a short period of time that you misheard it, or that there is a reasonable explanation for the position taken by the speaker. Try to make sense out of it.
Consider the prospect of your brain functioning like a hard disk on a computer. Just take in the information, store it there, and process it later when you have additional information and time to reflect.
When you decide to take action, or express your view, be sure to also ask this question of yourself, “Will what I have to say advance any societal interests in a positive way?”
© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
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