Sunday, November 29, 2015

For Every Action

1. having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good reasons to do so.
2. difficult to move, remove, or cure
~from the Oxford English dictionary

Is it something about the American pioneering spirit, pullmeupbymyownbootstraps, rugged individualist that makes us so blasted stubborn? All these descriptions, stubborn included, are so often worn with pride in this country as though it's our straight A report card - but then, that's not right, either, because rugged pioneers aren't wimpy intellectuals so let's make that a straight B+ report card.

I'm stubborn, too. Why are we so proud of this? It usually doesn't serve me well. When I was co-teaching, the two of us teachers often disagreed. We couldn't work it out so we stubbornly disagreed. Digging in our heels was the least effective way to solve any issues because it meant we both became more extreme in our own opinions.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
~Newton's Third Law of Motion

And we've become a nation of extremists. We're either radically left or radically right, fundamentalists or atheists, pro-gun or anti-constitution, pro-life or baby killers, pro-marriage equality or homophobic, the ones who are right and the ones who are idiots, good guys and the enemy. Black, white, there's no middle ground on any issue. Many of our presidential candidates are exploiting this. I'm sure they think it'll win them more votes. 

At least this is what all our media, social media, and clever photos and quotes seem to say. I suspect that, when it comes to many important things, we're a lot closer than we think. There's just one little problem. WE DON'T TALK ABOUT ANYTHING, unless, of course, we're fairly certain we agree. If we don't agree, we don't talk. We unfriend them or hide their Facebook posts. We move out to the country and live near others who believe as we do or we move to the city where there are people from so many different backgrounds and we can blend in.

We've substituted cleverness for thoughtfulness. We can blast our opinions out as loud as we want as long as we're blasting to those who believe the way we do. Or we blast at others without listening. What we don't do is talk...together...and listen and learn.

The problem with this is there are no simple solutions to our issues. Nothing we are facing right now has a simple black/white - right/wrong answer.

Extremist rhetoric, whether it's coming from social media or political candidates or a religious radicals, does nothing to solve problems and instead, fosters fear, anger, suspicion, and can encourage violence. It tells us it's a good idea to dig in our heels, stubbornly disagree, and become even more divided. And there are too many people out there who will jump at the chance to act out against a perceived enemy.

"How many hearts will be broken! How many lives shattered! How much blood will spill until everybody does what they're always going to have to do from the very beginning -- sit down and talk! Listen to me, listen. I just -- I just want you to think. Do you know what thinking is? 
It's just a fancy word for changing your mind.
The only way anyone can live in peace is if they're prepared to forgive. 
Why don't you break the cycle?"

~taken from the script written by Peter Harness and Steven Moffet for Dr. Who

I suspect most people who read this will automatically apply it to those who do not agree with them. If so, I have wasted my time and energy. And why do I quote science fiction writers? Those who write science fiction have the task to imagine worlds, complex worlds. Good science fiction helps us to reflect on our own world. 

                                                   "Why don't you break the cycle?" 

Moving away from our stubbornness will be hard work, but our lives may depend on it.

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous. A great reminder whether I'm dealing with my neighbor or trying make sense out of the latest "news".