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The Demise of civil discourse

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In 2012, Michael Shammas wrote for the Huffington Post regarding why it is a good idea to teach philosophy to High School kids. As he stated, “Anger is everywhere; understanding is nowhere.”

Here we are in 2017 and those words still ring true. You can log onto pretty much any social media platform and you’re inundated with vitriol. What’s more disturbing, is that you rarely see any effort from either party involved to understand the position of the other side. What you tend to see is a back-and-forth filled with generalizations, mischaracterizations, strawmen and outright insults.

What happened to us? What happened to civil discourse?

Shammas in his 2012 article suggests that we have lost the ability to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it. I would agree that is true for some of us. However, I’m going to suggest that for others, it’s simply hubris. Feeling “right” outweighs being “right” and sometimes, it outweighs truth itself.

Some of us feel that we are so “right” that we cannot be wrong. It’s an impossibility. In fact, if anyone suggests otherwise, that’s a slap to our pride. Certainly, we can’t be wrong! That’s blasphemy! Truly, if someone had the temerity to think differently or have a different perspective, they’re not only wrong, but they’re immoral. There’s something wrong with them. They’re evil. They’re the enemy.

If people who disagree with us are wrong, immoral, and the enemy, why would we actually take the time to get to know them? Why would we try to understand why they think they way they do? So, let’s just retreat to our respective echo chambers where we can pat each other on the back for being superior to those people. Let’s laugh and sneer at the knuckle-dragging rubes who think differently than we do. After all, we’re the enlightened ones, right?

So, if we can’t get to know someone who thinks differently than us, or worse yet, we don’t believe they are worth the time to get to know, what happens? There’s no way we can truly understand what they believe or why they believe it, in fact, most of the time, we don’t want to know. It’s stupid and wrong anyway so why waste our precious time? So we mischaracterize and generalize. Heck, even laugh at their apparent stupidity all the while being oblivious to the fact that mischaracterization often leads to demonization, which leads to passive and then active oppression.

It has been amazing to see how quickly so many who claimed to revile tribalism devolve into tribalism off of nothing more than their own arrogance.

There is a way out of his mess. It’s tough. It takes time and it requires becoming invested in people we may disagree with passionately. If we wish to wade into the battle of ideas, it is vitally important that we take the time to understand what the competing ideas are and accurately represent them. If we do not, we will quickly lose all credibility and we will lose traction in promoting our own ideas or philosophy because we’ve lost that credibility. We’ll only be adding to the background noise while other ideas and philosophies move forward with their agendas.

For example: if I started to criticize Islam, but it became apparent rather quickly that I have never studied the Quran, nor have I ever picked up the Hadith or talked to a Muslim, why should anyone take me seriously? If it’s made clear, once I exit my echo chamber, that I don’t know what I’m talking about, how can I expect to maintain any credibility whatsoever? I may be able to acquire some popularity with those who know less than I do, but it’s a transient popularity at best. My ill-gained popularity, as well as whatever philosophy or idea I was trying to promote, will simply be destined for the trash heap of history. Forgotten and impotent.

Plus, it’s important to learn about other perspectives because it’s just part of being a good neighbor. If I expect someone to treat my ideas fairly, and when criticizing them, accurately represent my position, I must do that for others. Well, I guess I don’t have to, but there’s a word for that kind of attitude and it starts with “hypo” and ends with “crite”.

So what do we do? I suggest there are two ways we can accomplish this: the first, we start to create and maintain relationships with those who disagree with us. Break bread with them. Pick their brains. Ask them about their beliefs and why they believe what they do. Take time to listen to them and really understand them so you can accurately represent their position. Again, you don’t have to agree with what they’re saying. But don’t rob them of their humanity by turning them and what they believe into a caricature. Second, study first; talk later. That’s right. Read books. Lots of them. YouTube and Google may be a good place to start, but it’s no substitute for actual research and study. Go to the sources. Read the documents that are central to a philosophy, political movement or a religion. Whatever you’re trying to criticize, you need to know it at least as well as anyone who adheres to what you’re attempting to criticize.

Also, we should read books that are critical of what we believe. To quote Christian apologist Andy Bannister, “…being willing to put what you currently believe to the test. For instance, what books have you read by those who disagree with you? If you’re an atheist and the very most you’ve ever read from a Christian is The Pop-up Book of Creationism, all the while lining your bookshelves with well-referenced works of atheism, I suggest you’re not really thinking, but living in an echo chamber.”

Let me ask you a question, dear reader; how do you expect your ideas or philosophy to win the “battle of ideas” if you don’t understand or care what the competing ideas or philosophies are to being with?

If we’re not prepared to take seriously the kinds of things that people believe in, then perhaps with all humility, we should simply stick to talking about TV shows, dating apps and celebrities. Because anything beyond that is just noise.

 

 

 

Born in West Virginia but raised in Chicago, Misty is a Fellow of the C.S. Lewis Institute and radio broadcaster. She has a passion for history, Christian apologetics, and great food! Misty also has a heart for spreading awareness about multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that claimed the life of her mother in 2013. She also occasionally writes for the Christian apologetics website AClearLens.org

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Culture and Religion

Dr. Michael Brown on Donald Trump fulfilling Bible prophecy with Jerusalem announcement

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Dr Michael Brown on Donald Trump fulfilling Bible prophecy with Jerusalem announcement

Many in the Jewish world believe that Jerusalem must be united and a Third Temple built before the Messiah can come. Christians have a similar interpretation of prophecy, except that it pertains to the 2nd coming of the Messiah. Dr. Michael Brown has perspectives on both ideas as a Messianic Jewish believer in Jesus Christ.

In this video, he discusses whether or not President Trump announcing recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel fulfills Bible prophecy. Spoiler: He doesn’t know, but he points to those who believe so. He also points out the hypocrisy of Muslim leaders attacking Jews in Israel for what a gentile in the United States announced.

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Opinions

Inside the Mitch McConnell circus

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Inside tMitch McConnell circus

The sad thing is, it is truly a circus.  The grassroots want Mitch McConnell out of the Senate, and he is telling loud and clear that the answer is No.  It’s no different than the “mouse” trying to get the “wolf’ in their place and make a break for it.  Hey, it’s simply just cold outside you know.

There is a group of conservatives that will always protest the likes of McConnell and they were around when Hoover, Ford, and Bush 41 screwed things up.  There just simply is not enough of them.  For real change to happen all Republicans must unite with the good guys and gals that work hard to do what is right, and winning elections regardless is not one of them.

Reference

King Mitch is the star of the stupidest show on Earth

https://www.conservativereview.com/articles/king-mitch-is-the-star-of-the-stupidest-show-on-earthWhat a circus! Everything to tantalize the senses from hearing the pompous moralites, to witnessing a Goldman Sachs carnival barker, to smelling the odor coming from the trunk-to-tail-linked highest echelons of the Republican Party. Listen to that calliope play!

And sex? We got it. Anything you want, allegations abound, and we can spend months talking about it, putting everyone’s focus on it, tweeting hot takes about it — all to make the race a sideshow about who is more moral and ethical. Because that’s how you put on the stupidest show on earth.

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Democrats

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy eyeing 2020 with Puerto Rico visit

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy eyeing 2020 with Puerto Rico visit

The newly-elected, progressive Governor of New Jersey (ex-Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy) is already eyeing 2020.

Murphy led a delegation yesterday to visit Puerto Rico, three months after Hurricane Maria. Digging further, a press release listed an extensive delegation including some curious choices, like appointed health officials from small towns with heavy Spanish-speaking (though not necessarily Puerto Rican-heavy) populations. It also includes the head of a leading Northeastern utility, PSE&G.

Last I checked, PSE&G has absolutely no business in Puerto Rico.

Ostensibly, this is for “relief efforts.” But no source document I could find, including that mentions actual relief efforts. No mention of what’s being brought down there. I suspect that’s because they probably aren’t bringing any relief supplies, no medicine, no equipment. Nothing. It’s just meetings, optics, maybe “fact finding.”

It should be obvious what’s really going on here.

Mainland public officials are going to Puerto Rico to recruit people — Puerto Ricans are birthright American citizens, have been since 1917 — to move to the mainland.

Upon arrival, those Puerto Ricans can legally claim “domicile” and register to vote (that is, if they were citizens to begin with) within any of our 50 states.

But Murphy’s team is looking to pack his state — a deep blue New Jersey which went for Hillary by a 55%-42% margin last year — and other likely settlement destinations (count on them also being blue states) with even more likely Democratic voters.

Murphy just got elected by a double-digit margin in New Jersey, ending eight years of term-limited and integrity-limited Republican Chris Christie’s bad beach manners. He does not take office until January 16, 2018.

Murphy does not need more help in re-election.

This is about the next presidential election.

The progressives are already packing the voter rolls.

But this trip is, very likely, using public funds, whether from Murphy’s transition budget or elsewhere. Given New Jersey’s legendary and current budget problems,

Call this what it is: A taxpayer-funded, Democratic voter-registration drive.

This guy is running for President. He’s already working on votes.

And bet that his delegation is recruiting Puerto Ricans to move to the mainland. Of course, those Puerto Ricans — already citizens — would become eligible to vote in the next Presidential election.

How that use of taxpayer money is legally suspect. These expenditures are subjects that are within the jurisdiction of the Justice Department (which has used its discretion to investigate matters of far less potential impact) to inquire.

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