The idea of hazardous duty pay might eventually be extended to all us citizens who try to stay in touch with the day-to-day goings on in our nation. Especially if we try to stay abreast of opinions in the conservative world as well as the liberal world simultaneously. And, there does not seem to be any real in-between, and middle-of-the-road thinking at least that makes its way into the public domain. It could be that we have become so polarized in our perspectives that any middle-of-the-road sources have been effectively put out of business.
The key to retaining one’s sanity is quite simple, really. We need to be careful consumers of opinion. ‘Careful’ meaning simply that we have to be aware of the leanings of whatever publications or communications media is the source of what was published/produced which we’re reading, watching and/or listening to at the time.
There is a decided tendency for many, I believe, to gravitate to whatever source we can find which echoes our own point-of-view. That is understandable. But, we need, at the same time, to recognize that we are getting a version of the story that someone else is being told is wrong. If we knowingly make those choices, that is fine. If we are ignorant that there are those kinds of choices to be made, that is not fine.
If we remain unaware of these truths, we can find ourselves getting into somewhat heated discussions and wondering how that happened after the parties have stormed away in a dark funk. Therein lies the reason that political discussions are often discouraged in public places or while working with associates or generally whenever there are people who may not share our personal opinions.
Readers of this blog know what they’re getting into. First-time readers learn my leanings very quickly and make their decisions to follow or ignore accordingly. They do that in the safety of being the only person affected by the writing at that particular time. We need be more careful and considerate of others in the more public settings where conversations occur in order to avoid unpleasant occurrences (heated arguments), for example. I am sometimes pleasantly surprised to learn of a reader that I’d not have expected to be a reader, but they seek me out and volunteer that information.
I review the writings that are published in the New York Times nearly every day and try to get a feel for the opposite belief system, i.e. liberal vs. conservatism, out of curiosity to see what liberals are receiving and how that is being framed. I am amazed, frankly, at how different the take is between my perspective vs. the perspectives presented in that publication. That serves to remind me that the divide can be quite large and that I may need to be careful in my conversations with others especially if I do not have an understanding of their respective positions on things political.
Our instantaneous communications capabilities have changed the world as we knew it. President Trump’s ‘tweeting’ is an example. We can reach people we never dreamed we’d reach. That isn’t always a positive thing depending on whom we reached and what our message might’ve conveyed. We need be aware of the possibilities, both good and not-so-good, that might be involved. A blog is one thing since it is easily avoidable if one chooses. A ‘tweet’ is different since it is targeted at a specific person or group of people. I choose to read some blogs that are the philosophical opposite of my blogs, but that is my choice. Were I bombarded with tweets from some of those bloggers, I’d feel differently.
Civility seems an appropriate word. We can have opposing opinions and we can discuss those opinions in a civil manner. Or, we can engage in a figurative ‘search and destroy’ mission. Our civil discussions can be very enjoyable if we remain adults and avoid getting into shouting matches. Not everyone can remain cool, calm and collected through such conversations and we need be aware of that before engaging. One-on-one settings seem to be preferable to exposing such things in a group setting especially when we are not at all sure of the feelings of the others. This is especially true if the location involved is a public place where many opinions might be found in a relatively small group, and where such conversations aren’t normally heard. It is not so much freedom of speech as it is consideration of others’ who may not be of a similar persuasion and who would not be expecting such remarks in that location.
Opposite opinions are valuable to a better understanding if we’ll use them in that manner.