Return to Sanity – Ask Good Questions

I would go to Jon Stewart’s rally. Whether it’s a joke or serious, he does have a point. Where is our sanity? When did issues become so polarized? How did we become so divided as a nation? Where are the voices of those that believe that issues are more complicated than what the media portrays them to be? Where are the people who can see many sides of issues and are willing to work together to find solutions? Why do we only see our differences in party lines? Aren’t there things that we all believe in, unified goals that we agree in and want to work towards?

Jon Stewart is not my savior. Jon Stewart does not have all the answers. But he does ask good questions and, really, that’s what seems to be missing in our conversations. There are no discussions, just arguments and propaganda. There is no open listening, just judgments. It’s not OK to ask tough questions. Just obey.

From what I remember from our pre-marital counseling (and yes there is marriage and politics go hand in hand, it’s about relationship), if two parties enter a discussion and are trying to convince the other person that their side, their opinion, their actions are “right”, then there is no way that they can be united. They fail. Is being right the most important thing anyways? What is “right?” (Sorry, had to ask the questions.) It’s not that they have to agree with what the other person is saying, but to truly know someone, to allow yourself to grow, we must humble ourselves, we must be willing to see that we can learn something from others, we must be also willing to acknowledge that there is a chance, we might also be wrong.

Take the controversial plans to build a Mosque close to Ground Zero of the 9/11 attacks. It seems like the most publicized arguments for or against the proposed plans are centered around Islam and really fail to see the larger picture that the events of 9/11 hurt everyone;  every race, religion, and social demographic we can think of. We all have been negatively affected by 9/11.  The people who died on the planes and buildings, the heroic responders, all came from different backgrounds and all had their own life stories. Yet the only headlines and major source of debate regarding the Mosque plans is centered around the attackers, their religion, their beliefs. Once again, do we have the courage to ask important questions: Does everyone who considers themselves Muslim believe in what the attackers did? Were the only victims and those affected by 9/11 non-Muslim? Do we think about sensitivity to victims in regards to other controversial events (like government buildings or houses of worship where there was injustice and death to Native Americans or Native Hawaiians)?

All I’m saying is that one only needs to look at peoples’ comments on online news articles or watch one of the news channels (FOX, MSNBC, CNN), and you start to wonder if there are only two kinds of thought in this country, only two kinds of people. Its frustrating that our media only portrays and sets up new stories in two specific lights. Why don’t they highlight the majority of the population who doesn’t fit in a specific political or ideological category? Not entertaining or shocking enough? Could there actually be people who have both liberal and conservative views on issues?

When did asking good questions become the insane thing to do?

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Please let me know what you think….maybe it’s just me that feels this way.

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One thought on “Return to Sanity – Ask Good Questions

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  1. Jedd,

    Like normal, I enjoyed your thoughts. Since I first read the post I have been thinking about it, and wondering if I am part of the problem. I wonder if my views are tinted by party and ideological colored glasses. Am I able to compromise and balance my thoughts on issues? I often take a view that is tilted towards what would be deemed the left, and often refuse to consider the alternative views. (or simply learn about the opposing view in order to argue against it) Why is this and how did I get to this place? Why has so much of our culture/people joined me in this polarization?
    As Stewart often points out, I think it is our media that that has polarized us so. Issues are so often portrayed as a simple black and white choice with no shades of gray. Very rarely do we have actual discussions about policy, and the vast complicated proposals and solutions to our nations’ very real problems. And when we do have these discussions most often they are not face to face with another person, but online, through social media, or in our heads with the shouting heads on TV. Much like issues of race, politics has become a forbidden subject that we do not discuss. It has become socially unacceptable to have a political discussion where we may not agree with those we are speaking with. It becomes even more egregious agree, if we have a personal attachment/ relationship with those in the discussion.
    You are so right that it is like marriage, where being right cannot always be the end all be all, but the discussion, the compromise and understanding of the other parties involved is so paramount to a continued peaceful existence.
    Of course as I write this I am also thinking of the clear choices between our current two parties. Neither is a perfect choice, yet one is clearly a better choice than the other. I am saddened, as I feel so much of the electorate simply is not informed/knowledgable enough about the issues and consequences to make what I consider to be the correct choice. (yes I know this somewhat condescending viewpoint plays into the polarization that yo are speaking of) But I also have hope that as our population becomes more and more disenchanted with our current two party system (see congressional approval ratings which never cease to reach new lows) that a true third party can arise in order to bring people together and actually solve some of our problems in a pragmatic yet revolutionary manor that can change our dialogue and free us from our shallow sound-bit oriented political discourse.

    In the mean time I will enjoy the rally and the absurdity of it all while attempting to truly listen to those I disagree with.

    Jeff

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