Fiscal Cliff and Gun Control? I Can’t Hear You Because I’m Listening to Myself

I'm Right and You're Wrong“Two plus Two is Five, and I don’t see how you can’t see that!”

Often, when I engage in political dialogue with people who believe what I wholeheartedly reject, they look at me like the guy in the photo to the left.    It is as if I am proclaiming that 2+2 is 5 and they don’t know what to say!  To be fair, it goes both ways.  Their arguments sometimes make as much logical sense to me!

Go online to discuss things and the discourse degenerates pretty quickly!  Read through the comment section of any hot topic of the day, and you will find people screaming at each other that 2+2 is 5 and 4+4 is 8.  In other words, the people who believe like we do get the answer right and those who hold an opposing view are flat out morons!

Just consider the Fiscal Cliff and/or The Gun Control debate.  We have become so polarized.  Both sides proclaim their view as the correct view,  at the top of their lungs, never pausing to consider there might be some truth to the opposing view.  Worse, the other side is often demonized for being out of touch or worse.

How can 53% of the country passionately believe their vision for our country is THE only way forward, and the other 47% just as passionately believe in their vision?

It doesn’t help matters that most of us get information from our own “trusted” sources. Conservatives get their information from more conservative leaning places.  Liberals get theirs from more liberal outlets.  A conservative person, who watches Fox News, reads Drudge and listens to Talk Radio every day, is going to have a different view of things than the liberal person who watches CNN or MSNBC and reads the NY Times.  Keep in mind that the conservative holds CNN, MSNBC and the NY Times in utter contempt and EXTREMELY biased.  The liberal feels the same way about FOX News and most “conservative” news outlets.  The problem with this, is that most people believe what they are told/sold.

Actually, I think the reason for our polarization is quite simple.  It is not that half of the country is full of obtuse, uneducated fools.  It is that there IS truth in both sides of almost every argument.  We just focus on the aspects our side finds most important and dismiss the others.  In effect, we are not listening to each other.  We are just shouting each other down.  I, for one, am utterly sick of it!

How do we change things on a personal level?  For starters, I suggest we start preferring clarity to agreement.  In other words, we should seek to understand why our conservative or liberal counterpart  believes the way they do.  Don’t reject their views without even considering them.

I also think we should start reading, watching and listening to the “biased” news of the other side! (Oh the scandal of it all!)  Watch CNN or Fox News, listen to Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Alan Colmes or Thom Hartmann and read the NY Times or Drudge.  With an OPEN MIND!

Finally, can we agree to be gracious with those whom we disagree?  Let’s stop yelling at each other and demonizing those who hold different views.  If we could just do THAT, maybe things would change.  I am hopeful, but I am not holding my breath.

About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on December 23, 2012, in Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I honestly think an open mind is the most dangerous thing to have when watching or reading any major media outlet. To save yourself from the trap of becoming ultra polarized on any major event covered by the media, the first step is to realize that you’re being lied to. Switchfoot has a very profound song about this very thing called “selling the news”. No matter what media outlet you’re getting your story coverage from, one absolutely must take into account that the accountability of the story takes the back seat to what will sell the best. So they warp, wrap, spin, embellish and chop their way through a story until what’s left is a sick and twisted plastic surgery case of the “news”. Stay alert… if you take an interest in a topic, actually research it so that the opinion you present is yours, not someone else’s!


    • Hi Wingman,

      I think that is good advice.

      When I say “With an Open Mind”, I do not mean “without discernment” or “without scrutiny”, or “with full acceptance”. I simply meant that one should be willing to at least explore the possibility of an opposing view. I think you and I would agree on that.

      Merry Christmas!


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