Maybe the Only Thing We Have to Fear


IMG_20130626_101942Isn’t it kind of crazy that we should be afraid to talk about politics. I know that we think it is rude. But I don’t understand why it is rude. It’s rude to talk about a person’s appearance. It’s rude to insult a person’s religion or to comment on their finances. It’s rude to judge people, but that’s about all we ever do. It is not rude to talk about political beliefs or to argue about them. What are doing if we’re not doing that? I understand there’s a difference between civil discourse and bullshit, but I think the bullshit is empty rhetoric, not dirty words. Sometimes people get mad at me for saying what I think, not because of how I’ve said it. Anyway, I know that’s not all there is to it–politeness. When it comes down to it, if you really take into consideration most of the stuff that gets posted on-line, we really don’t have a problem with being rude.

I think the reason we have such an impoverished public debate is that we are too reluctant to take on hard controversial, but important moral questions that really go to the heart of the question of what kind of society do we want to live in.  So I think that’s why we’ve shied away from a serious moral debate about where markets belong and where they don’t.  And the result is we have a kind of managerial, technocratic politics that many people find uninspiring.  –  MICHAEL SANDEL, Professor of Government, Harvard University

I guess some people are afraid to talk because they are afraid they might say something foolish. That’s understandable because some people still think they are special for knowing things that other people don’t know. As if there’s no such thing as google. We accuse each other of being brainwashed or indoctrinated as if we don’t have control of what we learn or how we use it. And we don’t have to take responsibility for it. I don’t have too much of a problem with saying foolish things, as you all probably know, but I also don’t have a problem with changing my mind or admitting I am wrong. Maybe I’m thick or stubborn sometimes but, of course, I don’t think I am. I think I’m right.

I don’t think it’s just a fear of being foolish or rude that stops people talking about politics. We don’t have a lot of trouble being foolish either. There’s some fear of real world consequences, like losing a job or promotion, or being ostracized by your church or community organizations, or losing customers. That’s a pretty serious problem, isn’t it? I don’t know how to deal with this one. I’m trying not to be afraid, though. I could probably be more polite and less of a smart-ass, but I’m going to try really hard to not be afraid.

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One Response to Maybe the Only Thing We Have to Fear

  1. Brenda Weber says:

    I’ve never gotten the impression you were ever afraid, or rude, or nasty in any way. You occasionally get angry, this is true. But you’re beautiful when you’re angry!

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