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BELIEVING MYTHS AND IGNORING FACTS

One of the frustrating realities of inter-racial and political discussion is the propensity for some folks to believe myths, and to ignore facts. There are reasons for this, and though I don’t know them all I am pretty sure some of them are built around emotional response; anger, guilt, defensiveness, etc. I sense some of the responses come from a political or ideological framework, and this in turn leads to reaction; vigorous agreement or vehement denial. The scathing, mocking, and belittling of those whose arguments with which we disagree only seem to add fuel to our allies and often bitter incomprehension to opponents. It is kind of disgusting to feel like one is standing near a mob cheering on a bloody and brutal fist fight when things could be worked out differently. It is as if the Wide World of Wrestling has invaded what should be intelligent discussion. It is not just that we disagree about our conclusions drawn from the same set of facts, but that we often disagree as to what are facts, let alone what the facts are. Then there are the phrases that beg our sympathy but give us no real argument, except that for us to keep saying something with which you disagree makes you extremely exhausted, such as, “I am so tired of hearing…” Some of this is fueled of course by those who make money from over the top rhetoric or bellicose argument, or by those who simply seek to make a name for themselves by articulating the most negative and slanted position. Our culture seems to have mistaken vehemence for substance, mockery for intelligent critique, sarcasm for valid conclusions. I am not picking a side here, but our entertainment culture has counterfeited explosion for power. It might be wise for all of us to be a bit skeptical of showmen. Somewhere in the midst of it we forgot to listen to each other, to attempt to walk in another person’s shoes, to see it from another’s perspective, to patiently wait to ascertain what is actually known rather than what is immediately assumed. If we don’t rush to judgment there is not going to be anything in the media, today, or right now, which of course is the only thing that is important. Along the way we have lost friends, a sense of unity, a common moral understanding, and a shared sense of justice. We have lost respect for each other, and lost kindness for anyone other than those who shout, yell, and curse alongside ourselves. I do confess to a frequent emotional reaction to much of our social discourse, and that is a sense of shame.

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