Biden’s America And Civil Discourse
For the next four years, government is going to do what government always does, very little. I pray that what does occur, is good.
Regardless of government, it is the rest of us who can actually have the greatest impact on the culture and the nation. I know, I know, this sounds like a pipe-dream, but with a few baby steps, society could truly be a much better place.
Over the years, I have been very active in attempts to dialogue with people who think differently than I think, and who come from walks of life which are different than mine. The conversations have varied greatly. Some are enlightening, challenging, enriching, and edifying. Others are very short and empty. With the short and empty attempts, I am nearly always the one who is willing to continue, but the other person or people are totally disinterested in dialogue. This happens locally, with people I know, and on social media with people I know and with strangers.
The deal breaker seems to be the conservative/liberal divide. The less liberal a person is, the more likely they are willing to talk. The more liberal a person is, it is almost guaranteed that they will fire an initial shot and then disappear. I suspect, though I don’t know it, that conservatives are similar in their unwillingness to dialogue meaningfully with liberals.
Whether this is due to an innate desire to avoid conflict, self preservation, cognitive dissonance, or some other sort of adverse internal reaction to thinking about things which conflict with the way you believe, the fact is, people on the right, do not get much of an opportunity to have meaningful conversations with people on the left.
I am a member of various liberal groups on social media. The conversations which take place on those pages are often nothing short of propaganda. Occasionally I will comment in order to promote discussion from a different perspective, but it rarely produces courteous and thoughtful dialogue. In essence, these groups are echo chambers where people who believe in liberal politics and morality, stroke each others’ emotions and reinforce their biases. As proof of this, I have been banned from several such groups, and threatened with banishment on many more occasions. I am often interrogated or reported: “Why are you in this group anyway?” “Administrator, please remove this guy.” “Why don’t you take your bizarre opinions elsewhere?” When they finally realize that I’m not going to get all frustrated and embarrassed, they simply delete all my comments. That is one of the secret weapons of social media, the eraser. That way no one can be influenced by something someone has posted 25 or 225 posts after the initial comment. Censorship isn’t just for the people who run Facebook and Twitter, it is utilized by many people these days.
I am far from perfect. I have posted things which were too harsh. I have engaged in ridicule and teasing at the expense of others, and I have been less than charitable with people on too many occasions. However, I hope to grow in charity, patience, and magnanimity. Additionally, in my time on social media, I think I have blocked one person permanently and one person temporarily (though the guy I temporarily blocked also blocked me, so he doesn’t even know I am willing to take him back as a friend). On both occasions, the person was hell bent on 100% misinformation, personal attack and slander. I have kept many “friends” who are only into such efforts about 1/2 of the time, and many of those have become less and less aggressive over time.
However, I have been unfriended and blocked by more individuals than I can count. From strangers to political figures, from anti-theists to Christians, from lay Catholics to Cardinals, I have been been muted, blocked, unfriended, and utterly cast into the vast, cold, and empty peripheries of cyberspace.
What is my crime? I have asked questions. I have done this through social media, email, written letter, and person to person encounters. The fact is, questions make people very uncomfortable, but only if the person has not thought about why they believe what they believe or think the way they think. For someone who has thought about these things, questions are welcome. Questions lead to dialogue, and dialogue leads to growth.
Liberals are not the only people who like to reinforce their biases. We are all prone to this. This is why we like our friends. Our friends think and act like we act, and it feels good to socialize with people when we have a lot of things in common.
In addition to the liberal social media groups I have joined (often temporarily), I am in numerous conservative groups. There too, I see a fair amount of reinforcement of biases. I also see instances when someone espouses a liberal point of view, and is criticized more than edified as a result. In all honesty though, this happens much less than it does in the liberal groups. Maybe I am biased (but I have honestly watched this closely and watched myself closely), I have witnessed much more openness and patience in conservative Christian groups than I have in liberal groups. Unfortunately, there are still problems even in the conservative and conservative Christian groups, and there should really be no such behavior in the Christian groups.
Then there is the self-sorting. Now that Trump is likely leaving office, numerous conservatives are looking for social media platforms which cater to conservatives. Personally, I would rather continue to try to dialogue with liberals than take my ball and go home. However, I can understand the urge to move on. When the platforms are owned and managed by liberals, why add to their wealth by staying active? I wish there was a better way right now. I suggest staying active on the liberal platforms if you are opening an account on Parler or MeWe. Maybe your liberal friends will end up following you to these new platforms because they are not censored, and because courteous and respectful dialogue actually takes place on these new platforms.
So let’s all try this. Let’s engage in courteous and respectful dialogue about the ideas, beliefs, and opinions we have and hear, while avoiding personal attacks, blocking, banning, and insulting each other. Instead of disagreeing with someone and then setting out to point out why the person with the idea or opinion is not credible or worthy of consideration, we need to consider the idea or opinion itself. Do not make things personal, and do not take things personal.
All that being said, I titled this “Biden’s America” because I doubt Trump’s court challenges will be successful. Do I think there was fraud in this election? Absolutely. Do I think enough of it can be proven and proven quickly enough to change the results of the election? No. That is an immense task, and to prove that much fraud would basically amount to admitting that the United States has just experienced an insurrection or a coup. That is 3rd world or 4th world stuff folks. If this can be proven, we have much more than an invalid election in 2020, we have a revolution on our hands.
So chew on that idea or opinion, and see if you can courteously and respectfully disagree. You practice how you play.
Here is another thought for exercise: Trump needs to clean up his act, watch his tongue, and leave office with impeccable dignity, because he can run again in 2024. He’s a mere two years away from the grueling campaign that would take, and at age 76 (I believe), he could successfully win the 2024 election.
And one final exercise:
Joe Biden is not an evil man. He truly wants what is best for the U.S. As Americans, we need to support his good decisions and firmly but fairly call for justice when he makes bad decisions. We need to pray for his physical and mental health, and show the world that the U.S. is not a failed or failing state.