Marlon Jones

Gear Up Liaison, Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education: GEAR UP

This conversation is closed.

"...but I'll defend to the death your right to say it… Really?"

Voltaire once said “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it” Would I? Really? While maybe not dead, civility is definitely paralyzed in our country, in our communities, and in our homes. At what point did it become easier to antagonize, patronize, and vilify the “other” instead of conducting a reasoned discussion about the perplexing issues that surround us? Well into the machinations of the most recent elections it was being reported by various media sources that Americans were more divided than during any other time in history. There is simply something that does not sound quite right about that statement. Is it possible to have an honest and reasoned discussion? Is it possible to objectively consider an opposing point of view? Do we even agree on what the problems are? Disagreements are inevitable but being disagreeable is not. What do you think?

  • thumb
    Nov 13 2012: Most of us are actually far more intolerant than we know or care to admit.
    Some people love the idea of 'freedom of speech' because they are almost sure that their opinion would prevail. This is expressed in the way media and popular opinion promotes ethnocentrism. We have people who would sit in the comfort of their homes in a distant place and would want to transform another country/place to a semblance of their's; and they would sneer at another culture and unfamiliar practices.

    Now, here is my point: it is not just about saying anything anyhow because you've got freedom of speech. It is very important to be sensitive to the feelings of another person. In conversations, there must be respect for the views, dignity and humanity of the other person(s).
    Not the arrogance of the fool who thinks he or she's got all the answers; and that he or she has just got a kind of wisdom that has never been had in the history of humanity.
  • Nov 24 2012: I am a university student. During banned books week at our library blank canvases and markers were placed with the question "What is your favorite banned book?"
    Instead of writing something related to the topic of banned books (which would be, by definition, my favorite) many people used it as a venue for a religious debate. The worst part of it all was that the people who decided to engage in this were completely disrespectful and intolerant to any other perspective that wasn't their own. Do people fail to realize that intolerance breeds intolerants. If one is unable to respect the views of others, they cannot logically expect for their point of view to be respected. (Even though that is making the huge assumption that logic has any place in such discourse).
    I always say that the beauty of living in a democratic society is that everyone is entitled to their opinions, no matter how blatantly idiotic they may be.
  • Nov 20 2012: I believe it means that Voltaire is willing to defend freedom of speech.
  • thumb
    Nov 20 2012: Re: "it was being reported by various media sources that Americans were more divided than during any other time in history."

    Why is it bad? Isn't it an evidence of a balanced society?

    What really divides the nation is statements like this. It seems to be done on purpose, to pit people against each other. Do you remember how the issue of gay marriages became hot? I clearly remember listening to the radio in my car, when 9/11 was still hot, war in Iraq started to turn sour, economy was down after the dotcom crash, and Bush heading towards reelection. Then he addressed the nation with his resolution to "preserve family values" by opposing gay marriage. Guess what was the hottest issue during the next elections? It was not economy and not war in Iraq.
  • thumb
    Nov 20 2012: Re: "Is it possible to objectively consider an opposing point of view?"

    According to Carl Popper, when a scientist wants to prove his theory, he must actively seek to disprove it, actively search for contradicting evidence. When such search is diligent, but only yields supporting evidence, the theory is accepted.

    It is not only possible, but it is necessary for everyone to consider the opposing views.
  • Nov 19 2012: I think it is definitely possible to have an honest/reasoned discussion but too often then not those conversations turn from facts to feelings. Your personal opinion on something can be closely tied to your personal feelings, and feelings complicate healthy debates. I think there are many variables, who are the people involved, what is the topic? Answers to those questions likely change the answer to this question.
  • Nov 14 2012: Ultimately the goal of an argument is to determine the truth, or the more correct of the two (or more) ideas. If we do not keep these arguments polite and rational, their purpose becomes corrupt. They become a contest of competing wills, irrational and emotionally charged. Debates more often than not are used to determine a winner or a loser (as we saw with the recent presidential elections), rather than a test of the strength of the arguments themselves. Nobody can lose a rational argument, because we can all benefit from the knowledge there gained. Being disagreeable is discouraging to progress. Respecting your opponents view is encouraging to progress.
    • Nov 15 2012: Good point, and I would add that the nature of political debates in the United States might need to be rethought. There's really not a conversation going on, it's each person giving their pre-planned answers. Giving a candidate two minutes to explain their policy may be good for those of us who only look at politics once every four years. But for those of us who really pay attention, we hear a few talking points that we already know from each side, and they move on.

      It seems to me that there should be a different type of debate, perhaps in a written format, where candidates can flesh out their ideas more fully. This would make for a more informed electorate, hopefully.
    • thumb
      Nov 20 2012: Re: "Ultimately the goal of an argument is to determine the truth, or the more correct of the two (or more) ideas."

      Most arguments are about subjective issues where no truth can be determined. I would say, the goal of an argument is to reach agreement. Arguments are only successful when people actively seek a common point and build on it.

      But I agree with you that when we shift focus from "what is right" to "who is right", all sides become wrong.
  • Nov 14 2012: "At what point did it become easier to antagonize, patronize, and vilify the “other” instead of conducting a reasoned discussion about the perplexing issues that surround us?"

    It has always been that way, there has never been a mythical age of civilized reasoned discourse.
  • Nov 13 2012: Marlon.
    I read that listening is an act of, or a form of, love. I agree with this.
    In order to really listen, one must (be willing) to set aside their own prejudices, set conclusions and beliefs,
    opinions, ideas and so on, even truths, in order to really hear and understand the meaning in what the other person is saying, or, trying to say.
    The human of today (I'm thinking mainly of Americans), react from fear many times and it is fear they are not even aware of. Thus, they act uncivil.
    Imagine, I give you a pair of glasses in which the lenses are fear. That is then, how you see the world, forgetting the lenses are fear as easily as you forget the haircut you got that you didn't like. Fear of how you will look to others, perhaps. When I talk to people, I am almost always trying to make connection to them, but it virtually never happens.
    Things I like to talk about are the kinds and types of things I feel we need to be able to talk about. But, many of us have been taught to hide these things rather than show, reveal and talk about them. I remember picking up a young man who was hitch-hiking to work. It was winter. He had on a suit but no socks. I asked if he was alright. He looked at me, eyes filled with fear and said, "yeah, things are fine. Thanks."
    It is so difficult to learn not to be important. When I become important, I become afraid. I then act differently even to the point of withholding love from others. Which means not listening but reacting from fear. Not being in touch with the real me.
    I also think humans are a lot like animals in this way. They know when a storm is coming. They know when an earthquake is about to hit. Humans can also sense the danger on our planet and at least with all the fear we have drummed into us about global warming, economic collapse, the real spread of Fukushima radionuclides, the 7 garbage islands that are destroying all our oceans, war, disease, disasters and so forth, that they are walking around numb to everything except fear
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2012: "...it was being reported by various media sources that Americans were more divided than during any other time in history..."

    I beg to differ! The Civil War was such a time when we were more divided. With so many republicans petitioning to succeed from the union because they didn't get their way, it does hearken back to the civil war era. I wonder if that great divide in our nation never really properly healed?

    In terms of being disagreeable, some of our presidents actually engaged in duels to settle challenges. Politics has always been a brutal, nasty affair. It's not about playing fair. It's about winning.

    I don't think these two sides want to have a reasoned debate. I think they agree to disagree. I think that's the problem.
    • thumb
      Nov 13 2012: There will probably always be the haves and the have=nots and I doubt they will come to any concensus on this matter.
      • Nov 13 2012: When you look at the USA from the viewpoint of the poorest of humanity, the USA has a society of haves and have-mores. Perhaps we can encourage consensus by encouraging a wider perspective .
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2012: TED staff does an outstanding job of controlling disagreeable behaviour on this website. This site can serve as an excellent example of people on every side of an issue participating in conversation, collaboration, and debate without antagonizing, vilifying or mocking one another. Walking in the other guy's moccassins is not easy. We all carry a load of presuppositions, biases, and preferences. For these reasons my answer to your very relevant question is. . . NO! Being disagreeable is not inevitable. Thank you Mr. Jones!
  • thumb
    Nov 26 2012: I have been honored to read each of your conversation perspectives and thank you for sacrificing your time to comment. I look forward to participating in many other conversations and anticipate interacting with you in those places as well. I have referred all of my students to TED conversations and encouraged them to get involved. I have used our conversation as discussion starters and supplements in my GED, ELL, and Citizenship classes.

    Again thank you for the intellectual growth!

    Marlon
  • thumb
    Nov 24 2012: Good one Marlon. Voltaire must of meant that line for one of his songs. Seriously though, I'm reminded of "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me", in my experience, they certainly can. In the political arena, I feel most are embroiled in problem's effects, not the causes. I believe there is never an excuse to not have an honest and reasoned discussion in most cases this day in age.
  • Nov 23 2012: I totally agree. But is seems my first comment went a little off topic, so let me put it this way. With freedom we must have responsibility, otherwise its just chaos. What i mean by responsibility as concerns freedom of speech, is to keep a certain distance from the arguments so that you are neither offended nor (purposely) offend others. To put this into practice, i could only suggest teaching people manners. What kind of laws should there be concerning freedom of speech, i couldn't say. But what's your opinion, Should a company be able to bent the truth in order to sell its products?
    • Nov 24 2012: That's a great point about responsibility. One thing I would say about society in the United States (where I live): While the vast majority of people are responsible for their lives and their speech and actions, there will always be a small subset who behaves irresponsibly. It's the job of the rest of us to put irresponsible words and actions in their place (at the margins of society.)

      I think that certainly a company should be (legally, though not necessarily morally) allowed to lie. The question is how much. When you see a sign that says, "world's greatest cheeseburger," I don't feel it is a threat to human knowledge, because any rational individual knows that this assertion has no real meaning. However, if a company says, "this cheeseburger will cure the common cold" I feel that should not be allowed. Overall, the question is very complicated and I don't want to go off topic but maybe sometime I'll make a separate conversation about this, as it's something I have much interest in.
  • Nov 21 2012: I can't agree that most arguments are about subjective issues. If issues seem to be subjective it is because we do not have enough knowledge on the issue itself (or else it is purposely misrepresented to suit one party or another). What is right and wrong cannot be subjective.
    • Nov 22 2012: "What is right and wrong cannot be subjective"

      Hello Marlen,
      While this is probably true, there is so much gray area that often times people with different subjective viewpoints will come to very different conclusions even if they have the same core values. For example, is it right to start a war with a country because its leader denies his citizens of basic human rights? Some would say yes, that the death and destruction caused by war is less harmful than the dictator's reign over his people. Others would say that it isn't our place to step in, and that the war itself is worse than having a dictator for a leader. Two people who both want peace and happiness might have very different views on this issue.

      Clearly my example is not detailed enough to say one way or another, but you can see how certain situations have so many factors involved that it can be difficult to give an objective answer. And when objectivity is not an option, subjectivity comes into play.

      In this discussion, I think a main topic is whether it is important to fight to defend free speech, and if so, how important. The famous example is yelling fire in a crowded room. Society has decided this is not an important freedom to preserve, so we prohibit it. This is a no brainer, but what about deceptive advertising? Should a company be able to bend the truth in order to sell its product, and if so how much? The answer you give will almost certainly have a subjective aspect to it, because the question is not settled. Those who agree with you may say you're being objective, but those who disagree will find subjectivity.
  • Nov 20 2012: an argument is wen to people hash out there apposing opinions. a healthy argument is wen each feels vary passionate about there perspective yet don't disrespect the others point of view. I'm just as entitled to be a donkeys rear end and you are and the next person. that's what freedom is. as long as we don't cross the line and start to force our point of view on others. remember at any point you can pack up your toys and go home, but to stay and TRULY allow the debate to flourish in a constructive way is the goal. its like in marshal arts, your opponent is there to keep you at your peak performance and keep you from eluding your self in to thinking you are the best, they keep you honest. the only way to truly explore your opinion is to find someone that is in direct opposition to it. thus testing your theories in an open forum.
  • Nov 20 2012: liberty or death::: "the us constitution is the paper that keeps us. it is the basis of freedom. with out it we would not be free. it pains me to see these values being laid to waist. please people learn this and all the rights given you. freedom or death was the feeling behind its formation. our civil liberties are being stripped away everyday and we do nothing sit back light up go back to sleep never put a fight up. the government works for us not for them like it is these days. the more we roll over the more we loose...
    definition of a patriot : A person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors .detractive - causing to decrease in importance or value; "detractive influences on the volume of investment"
    decreasing - becoming less or smaller, The act of detracting or taking away.
    ( my proclamation )
    we the people of these united states in order to reinstate the sanctity and just and free rights of the commonwealth on all those with in and for future members, do at this time ask for the resignation to at with is to cease and desist of any governmental office chair holder not looking out for the amendments established by the founders of the United States of America, but to fit there wants, greed or vested interest. to relinquish there chair to someone willing to stand by such values as life liberty and pursuit of Happiness. ( by Todd Levesque )
  • Nov 20 2012: There is every opportunity for civil discussion and compromise as long as those involved are willing to change their opinion as new facts become available. Facts are immutable evidence, facts do not change; however, new facts do become available, which may require revising our opinions.

    In the U.S. the problem is a very large group of people operate on dogma. For these people no amount of contradicting facts can cause them to change their mind. They simply create new layers of bullshit to explain away the facts. Hence we have people who believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, evolution is "just a theory", and climate change is a hoax.

    In light of the obvious fact that most will never accept the science behind the age of the earth, evolution, or climate change, all of which are supported by mountains of facts, it is naive to believe they will ever change their minds on social issues like equal rights for all citizens, or any other idea that conflicts with their dogmatic view of their world.

    Simply put, we are dealing with delusional people. People who have been trained from childhood to be ignorant. Asking them to change is asking them to throw away everything they"ve been taught and believe, everything that defines their entire life. Once someone is fully indoctrinated in a dogma, the likelihood of their ever discarding that dogma and revising their opinions is miniscule.

    Ain't happening. I don't defend their right to be ignorant. I especially do not defend their right to bend public policy to their delusional beliefs.
    • thumb
      Nov 21 2012: The problem you articulate is not unique to individuals or groups in the United States. There are, and have throughout history, been people everywhere who hold to fixed views, either regardless of facts or by lack of curiosity about the truth of things.

      One sees evidence of confidently held prejudices every day, I think, regardless of country of origin.
      • Nov 21 2012: Fritzie, in general you're no doubt right, as people are people the world round. I like to specifically call out the U.S. so that people know I am not talking about a country or people about whom I know very little.

        There is ample evidence indicating the U.S. is on whole a more fundamentalist religious society, with higher numbers of people holding beliefs contrary to scientific evidence than other Western industrialized nations. My own observation is that once one is capable of believing the Earth is only 6,000 old, it is a short hop to every other wacko belief. We also seem to be a more sexually repressed and homophobic nation, but then I don't get out much.

        Thanks
        • thumb
          Nov 21 2012: I mentioned the broad geographic range of the phenomenon you mention of some people adhering to fixed views without regard for or interest in facts, because I think people sometimes think such issues are peculiar to the United States. This misconception is held sometimes by people who live in the US as well as those who don't but whose impressions are formed from internet and other media.

          For example, I have noticed in some settings of international exchange of views people who believe that Americans simply don't believe claims made by those who are not Americans, that Americans don't have folk or cultural festivals, that the income inequality in the US is greater than in, say, South American countries, or that there is more inter-ethnic hatred here than in other parts of the world.

          I have noticed some people having the misimpression that Americans feel that they, or America, can do no wrong, when in fact the US was founded on the belief that speaking up when the government seems to be messing up right and left is a very good thing.

          I am just suggesting this issue is one not peculiar to the United States but one that must have some roots in human nature, culture, or zeitgeist, because it appears worldwide.
  • thumb
    Nov 19 2012: "At what point did it become easier to antagonize, patronize, and vilify the “other” instead of conducting a reasoned discussion about the perplexing issues that surround us?"

    Although there are those who choose to be difficult regardless, I don't think it's a matter of ease as much as it is likelihood for misunderstanding given how we communicate. Case in point, TED. I only know what you wrote and you, in turn, only know what you've read from me in response. What neither of us have is the benefit of watching each other's body language, or hearing the nuance in the words we choose, all of which is a big part of communication. While we think we communicate in text, email, and written responses, as we're doing here in TED, I often see much more harm than good coming from it.

    "Is it possible to have an honest and reasoned discussion? Is it possible to objectively consider an opposing point of view? Do we even agree on what the problems are?"

    Yes to the first two, all too often, no to the third, I believe, in part, due to the problems that come with what passes for "communication" these days.

    Related to this, non "face time" communication such as text and email provides a form of assumed anonymity, which, in my opinion, creates another problem. We type things we would never say were we face to face. There is an old school "Goofy" cartoon where mild mannered Goofy becomes agressive, belligerent Goofy the moment he gets behind the wheel of his car, once again becoming polite Goofy when he gets where he's going. I often think of that when reading posts in Facebook from people I know to be polite in person, who occasionally become really nasty in FB. And this is particularly true when discussing religion and certainly politics.

    They do because they are not facing the person they are in discussion with; that and being urged on late at night by a third glass of wine.
  • thumb
    Nov 15 2012: Greg, I think your post touched on the conflict that exists. I agree. I believe that a good bit of discussion is happening behind the scenes. How often have we heard that governing is like sausage making. The results, for the most part, are good [depending on who you ask of course], but the process is not very pleasant. The thing that grinds me is that it appears the sausage making has increasingly more to do with personal attacks and less to do with the feasibility of the issue(s). the reason I appreciate these comments is when I ask myself the question no matter how hard I've try I have not been able to argue the opposing viewpoint with sufficient passion. So there it is...a work in process.
  • Nov 15 2012: I don't think, I know that this has much to do with neglect or deliberate exclusion of "social development" in the education models which predominate western society. As an America I even wonder if this has been long considered and deliberately avoided because social development leads to the conclusion that warfare is idiotic. We, America, of course however are dependent upon periodic conflict because our arms industries, defense contractor etc are such a big part of America's economy. There is only one "best" answer to humanities direction and that was already agreed upon over 20 years ago in formulation of the "sustainable development movement" and its charter document "Agenda 21 i.e. to invest in cooperation more robustly than preparation for foreign aggression. But this notion has been hushed up and Agenda 21 vilified as a nefarious "new world order" out to take away rights and sovereignties. Nonsense. Twenty years have gone by and no one in a blue helmet ha kicked in your door and demanded your weapon.

    Social development IMO should become the top imperative of a new model of education where knowledge becomes secondary because wrapped up in social development are all the issues of motivation and why to learn. Along with that naturally comes how to value strangers and develop "synergy" whereas today even with the net we default to territorialism, one-upmanship, defensiveness, competition and the like. All of this can be turned around and we can surprise ourselves--astonish ourselves--with what's possible with this particular change i.e. establishing social development as the horse that pulls the cart of education. I'm ready. Fired up?
  • Nov 15 2012: On the issue of "I will defend to the death your right to say it," I think this is a cornerstone of democracy. Greg Dahlen's post brought up a situation where one person says, "bananas are the best food." Now of course no one is going to die to advance or dispute this theory, it's not worth it.

    However, imagine living in a society where the only correct opinion is "apples are the best food." If you happen to like bananas more and say so openly, you get sent to prison for a year. This is a situation where, yes, I would die to defend that crazy banana lover, because it is an unalienable human right to be able to express your opinion. If a government attempts to take away natural rights, the public has to fight back. If not, they will be forced to submit to the will of those in power.

    I think in America today, people assume that they have ultimate freedom and power. The reality doesn't bear this out though. We do have many freedoms, but also many limitations on those freedoms. Similarly, each of us has power to affect our democracy, but some have much more power than others. And in a way, it seems that our freedoms are being slowly pulled away at the same time we are being reassured that we are the free-est nation in the history of the world.

    It's up to each of us to defend our human rights. This isn't a battle that was won long ago, it's a struggle that continues to this day around the world. History has shown us that if the populous does not defend their rights, the elites will diminish them. And that is just as true today as it was during the French Revolution or in the Roman Empire.

    Great question, Marlon!
    • thumb
      Nov 19 2012: Wait! Greg said bananas are the best food? Are you serious. No way Greg, you take that back!
  • thumb
    Nov 15 2012: as an overarching principle, i would die to defend people's right to disagree. Actually, life would fall apart if people couldn't disagree, because ideas would never get refined, i guess we'd always go with the first idea no matter if it was flawed or not.

    In practical life, one would have to weigh what one is willing to die for. For example, if someone says bananas are the best food, and I will brook no disagreement, am I going to die to defend someone else's right to disagree? Might not be an important enough issue.

    I believe, Marlon, that even when it seems people are antagonistic, etc., there is a lot of reasoned discussion going on behind the surface. I think we realize we must all hang together or we will hang separately
  • thumb
    Nov 14 2012: Perhaps we need to visit the freedom of speech. In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity, sedition (including, for example inciting ethnic hatred), copyright violation, revelation of information that is classified or otherwise.

    As a member of the military and serving in Viet Nam I was subject to much verbal abuse, physical abuse, and things throw and spitting from US citizens upon return to the states when we arrived at airports. Police were present but seldom stopped anyone.

    I umpired little league games and some of the mothers suggested I do things with my anatomy I do not think is possiable. Parents fight at kids games. There are few role models. We see lack of cooperation at every level.

    It is a unfortunate fact that the media encourages much of this to promote sales.

    It is the soldier that protects and fights for our rights. The are the ones who fight to the death to enable your rights.

    Even on TED we hear conversations that say hes not my God ... I hate violance and you do not fight for me ... and other silly remarks. Many have become disagreeable.

    These as you have stated are facts ... the question is are WE promoting favorable discussion traits here on TED ... are WE part of the problem .... if so how can WE become part of the solution. By the way I am not without sin in this area.

    What happens if we FLAG a conversation .. what do the TED people look at ... what are the consequences .... whyat is the defination of a discussion, argument, rude, nasty, etc ... in regards to replies. Do any of us know what it takes to cross the TED line.

    Thanks for listening .. good luck Marion. Bob.
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2012: Sir....We need to opern some peoples' eyes to the fact that we do have abject poverty in the USA. Look how many people are on welfare. food stamps, etc. and some of these people want jobs. Where are they ? Don't you know we have ghettos amd Appalachia is not exactly affuent. How many kids do we feed in schools ?
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2012: When I contemplated posting this discussion I was honestly asking myself the question. I must admit that there was a moment of hesitation although in the end I’d like to think that I would. As stated in my profile I am the director of the GED program in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When discussing literature with the class I have to emphasize reading a literary piece within its historical context. So if we are analyzing an 1851 post-Fugitive Slave Act poster with the word “Negro” emblazoned on the front we discuss the significance of the poster within the context of less than a year after the passing of the Act. There is nothing inappropriate to me in this context. I, then, fast forward 162 years later and hear racial and gender slurs from ALL sides as well as religious slurs that seem to only have the context of the emotion in the moment. [Full Disclosure…I’m an ordained elder]It saddens me more than angers me. As Danger Lamppost stated…A house divided against itself cannot stand. Thanks so much. I really love reading you guys’/gals’ posts!
  • Nov 13 2012: Lets put this into perspective.

    We here at TED are certainly divided on some issues. Yet we agree so often that outsiders criticize us for being so similar.

    We see a great deal of division and harsh words on the media ... because it attracts large audiences. The major "news" outlets use sound bites, intentionally out of context, with no apologies.

    The USA has never had a violent attempt to overthrow our government. Every president has voluntarily given up power.

    In my personal experience, the lack of civility is no different now than in the past. When I was a child, there bullies and jerks of all ages, and there still are today, and the number is about the same. When I discuss political issues with local people, the discussion remains civil and we listen to each other.

    The gridlock in Washington is seen as a disaster on the horizon. You could also see it as the checks and balances operating as designed. When there is no consensus, it is best if government does nothing.

    One aspect of this problem is fixable, and that is gerrymandering. The design of our congressional districts has become a well tuned craft. If we can develop a consensus to draw district lines systematically instead of politically, I suspect that compromise will come back into fashion and gridlock will come to an end.
  • thumb

    Gail .

    • 0
    Nov 13 2012: There is definitely a trend toward lack of civility in our society. There have been other times in American history where the same was true, but it's one thing to read about the Adams/Jefferson presidential campaign and another to actually live in the USA in 2012.

    The lack of civility appears to be rather infectious. There was a time when I could count on all TEDsters to be civil, but those days are gone. There are a growing number here - in a place of learning and discourse - that cannot help but attack and belittle anyone who disagrees. It's not a small minority either.

    Mob mentality is taking over. Christians/Muslims v.anti-theists/Atheists and progressive liberals v. progressive conservatives are two examples of profound discord intentionally fomented in our culture. This has created a state of affairs where neighbors are pitted against neighbors because they believe that they are in jeopardy because of the other side.

    So tyranny rules rather than collaborative searches for solutions.

    We live in a fear-based (scarcity-based) culture. We have been taught that this is reality. It's not reality (according to the new sciences), but if we believe the lie, it is true for us, so we build our cultures around the myths and destroy ourselves in the meantime.

    We need to fix education so that people learn how to think for themselves again. Too many rely on idiots to tell them what to think.
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2012: A house divided against itself can not stand.

    So said a great president of ours during the darkest days this nation has ever faced. I fear we are progressing towards such a point again. I sincerely hope we are not.
    • thumb
      Nov 13 2012: It is going to fall either way. Maybe that is the best solution?
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2012: Here is where the movement is different from most political action. It supports no issues save the desire to construct a balanced forum for nonpartisan community. THAT is its issue.

    I know it is very different and will take time to take hold...
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2012: I not only believe it is possible, but I am actually fighting to make bi-partisan civility and genuine populist empowerment in the spirit of our forefathers, a reality in our country. www.newamericanspring.org. I'd appreciate comments on this bright proposal of mine...
    • thumb
      Nov 13 2012: Kudos and best wishes on your effort sir.
      Here's a tough one for you . . . many (most) people have "litmus" issues which they consider essential. Some of those issues are: family; sexuality; abortion; economics; political persuasion; spirituality; creationism; evolution, atheism; religion; etc.
      You may need to declare your position on such issues before asking people to support the movement.
      Again, best wishes in your effort to restore knowledgable participation in politics for each American. Down with Apathy and Ignorance!
  • thumb
    Nov 13 2012: If was pretty divided in the 1860s, for at least one similar reason, Federalism.

    A discussion by definition requires both parties to listen to the other. No it is not possible to have a discussion if one party is not listening, even worse they don't know they are not listening.

    Yes it is possible but it is the same as saying real communication which is also rare for the aforementioned reason, it is not just about politics. I think the core problem is a centralized government squishing the individual by not giving a platform to speak from which historically has been a small community, organization, church, group, family.

    A secondary factor with communication is that people are rarely communicate better than when they exchange. Example you see something in the supermarket and pick it up and agree that it is worth what the store is selling it for so you take it to the checkout counter and exchange with the clerk the agreed upon amount of your money and he gives you the product. At which point you both say thank you, as he wants your money more than he wants his product and you want his product more than your money. This is the perfect model of communication. The less you exchange with people the less you are communicating, the less you are thinking about the other guy, the less you are able to communicate with him even when you want to, and according to Matt Ridley (TED talk, search Matt Ridley) the less you are going to improve your standard of living.

    Inevitably when there is conflict it is caused, in politics the cause is the politician who throws up the straw man that he portrays as the source of their trouble. If you are on the right the straw man is the government on the left it is big evil business. I will say that the left wins the prize for not listening. I'm sure many will reply that that is my 'glass house" but the fact is do listen and probably understand their viewpoint better than they do.