This isn’t an either/or world

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Saying our national dialogue is polarized is an oxymoron. A dialogue assumes an exchange of ideas; polarization is separating things into opposites. You can’t exchange and separate at the same time. A polarized dialogue is no dialogue at all.

We are currently aggressively not dialoguing on way too many important national issues!

Dissecting “oxymoron” can actually shed light on this problem. “Oxy” means having oxygen…aka being windy… aka windbag. Therefore “moron” would be the person acting as a windbag. Right?

To illustrate, let’s look at an academic debate: Nature vs. Nurture. At its most simplistic, this argument is about blaming our parents. Stick with me…. If nature (genes) determines human behavior, we blame them for passing us evil genes. If nurture is the determinant, we blame them for not loving us properly.

Taken to its logical extreme, “nature” results in predetermination. Genes determine everything from eye color to how we react to stress. We have no control of our lives. We are simply automatons acting out a prewired program.

Nurture, on the other hand, allows us control, but takes away our scapegoat (except our parents).

I present this debate simplistically to emphasize that we do not live in an either/or world. Colored contacts trump nature. Poor nutrition (nurture) trumps genetic potential. The right answer is that both nature and nurture are significant.

Our televised national debate seems more interested in winning arguments by ruthlessly demolishing the opposition. The only exchange is punches. If we can put aside our pugilistic approach and incorporate the best of the opposing side into our world view, our world view will become stronger, more adaptable, and yes, actually closer to an objective truth.

I like being a windbag. I like having a punching bag. I love having a scapegoat. But I don’t want to be blamed by my children for leaving all these messes for them. No amount of nurturing will buy me their forgiveness.


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