For June 2006
June 2nd, 2006
Disturbed By Polarization
One thing that deeply disturbs me currently is that the capacity to have differing opinions yet remain social seems to be vanishing. Much has been made of how polarized American society is, and I am coming to realize just how profound that seems to be.
The illegally appointed president-by-coup, George Bush, is oft quoted for his 'You're either with me, or your against me' verbiage and outlook, and I am finding too much of this same feeling in the world around me. It seems that far too many people, faced with a disagreement over a given topic, will make that disagreement the basis for the entire dismissal of another person or an entire social environment.
The old chestnut of "let us agree to disagree" seems to have vanished in place of "my way or the highway". I find myself saddened, and appalled, at the spoiled child attitude of having emotions so ruffled by disagreement that the only solution is to pick up one's metaphorical ball and run home. What happened to people? What happened to the notion that debate and disagreement are fine, and that a person, or a social environment, is not defined purely by one lone offense, or should be abandoned because of one, or even several, insoluble differences of outlook?
The pressure to retain popularity and avoid rejection or conflict by either becoming mute, or by falsely agreeing, or by becoming devoid of any solid opinion seems to be epidemic to me. How did such shallow, fearful, or wishy-washy behavior become so acceptable, and just when did strong character, individuality, and acceptance of divergent opinion become criminalized?
A person is not defined only by their politics, their religion, their occupation, or their opinions, but by all of these things, and more - a person is complex beyond measure, a universe unto themselves. A person contains multitudes, and just because some given, emotionally charged element cannot be agreed upon is a weak reason to abandon discourse.
Diversity is a rose, it comes with thorns. You have to expect to get the odd prick now and then, and accept it gracefully...the fact of having to deal with thorns is not reason enough to loath flowers altogether.
Or so is my opinion on the matter, which you may resolutely disagree with...and if you do, I would not feel the need to flee from you.
June 6th, 2006
By Jennifer Diane Reitz
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