I recognize that I have definite beliefs about many topics. I call myself politically a Democrat, a progressive protestant in religious matters, and socially/economically I support the rights of people to be respected and all citizens to vote, and I oppose the right of the very rich to control the economy to their advantage at the expense of the poor.
|Example of a post that elicits polarization|
I grew up in a community of farmers and small merchants… the political views that best matched their experience were those of self sufficiency, self reliance, and minimal government interference. Now I live in a more complex society with many different social groups living in close proximity, with a wide range of needs and interests. It seems to me that the growth of diverse views has resulted from greater mobility and the emergence of complex problems without easy solutions. It is no time to try to place the solutions of the past to solve the problems of today. In 1950 the US population was less than 258 million, today it is more than 317 million… and a much more diverse society at that…
|Being prevented from entering a theater because of the man's race|
How do I live with my views and also live within our broader society?
a. I can bluster on about what I believe – maybe have to argue with somebody with a different idea…
b. I can shut up and in my mind pigeon-hole that person: Once placed in a category we tend to keep them there… labels are convenient: “Conservative” “ Liberal” “Socialist” “Militarist” “Environmentalist”…
c. Convince the other person with the power of reason that they are wrong and I am right… (Paulo Coelho, the modern philosopher say: “Don't waste your time with explanations. People only hear what they want to hear. ")
d. Enter into an open dialogue with the goal of establishing an agreement to really listen to the other person… The goal is to explain my beliefs and listen to learn about their beliefs. How often have I been in a discussion where I am thinking of my next response to the person, instead of listening to
OK – I have attempted all of these methods and my goal is to be more mature and be a “d”, but sadly I often still seem convinced that “c” will work, despite repeated experience that it doesn't. Once a few years ago I said to myself that because I had reached a certain age it was time for me to stop holding back about my real views. …Well maybe – but my rational brain knows that I am no more likely to change someones belief position by talking at them as they are to change mine.
|Yup! its true...|
So getting back to Facebook – what am I to do? If I post a really cool site expounding one of my favorite ideas, my Democrat friends say – “Oh yeah! I agree.” – they may even “like” my posting. My Republican friends say… “ There goes John again –spouting off again..” or worse they try to argue me out of my belief. We both leave feeling alienated and frustrated.
|Cesar Chavez... Loved and hated...|
The one thing I can say for Facebook is that it is one of the most genuine meeting places for people of different opinions. Most of us watch news casts with which we agree. (Rachael Maddow v. Fox)… read internet sources that we like ( Washington times v. New York Times) … and we seldom encounter points of view different from our own.
|I'm curious what draws us to take a stand... and also curious why we seek to avoid standing up for our beliefs|
...this photo gives part of the answer...
When I receive an outrageous posting the first thing I do is to look at its source. Does it sound reliable? Sometimes I click on the source link to get more information. I may run it through snopes.com to get their take on it. I approach a strange piece with an attitude of cautious hostility...knowing that I disagree and trying to decide what to do with it.
|ML King among a group of supporters|
After years of neglecting Facebook I am now clearly hooked – I check it most every day. I enjoy making contact with old friends, past students, relatives… I love seeing photos… What the heck – can you tolerate me once in a while posting one of my ‘challenging’ sites…? Feel free to go ahead and be challenging yourself!