Saturday, December 24, 2016

Some Of What You Call "Political Correctness" Is Actually Necessary

One of the grave things about the state of our discourse is a high amount of reactivity and emotivism. By the two terms I mean a high likelihood of emotional decisions. Very few people are deciding issues or voting choices via a reasoning process. Another description could be used: tribalism.

In my opinion, most of what is described as being "un-PC" or "telling it like it is" is really just confirming already-held beliefs, and the fallacy of "poisoning the well." If you can convince yourself that the other side isn't worth hearing out--say for example, posting the sarcastic hashtag "#tolerance" alongside articles of progressives being unreasonable--you don't have to make an argument that holds any water. The cycle continues.

Something big is lost, in the rush to win the argument that is not an argument: the space to hear each other. If you have an argument for the minimum wage, or nuclear disarmament, I definitely want to hear it, even if you haven't arrived at the truth that a fetus is a person, for whatever reason. That's just one example. And it's not only because I don't want to live in hostility any more. It's also because, if my experience and my reasoning are incomplete or faulty, then you can help me.

We can't really come together, as we often say we want, until we make a personal decision to accept the fact that we do not possess at this moment the totality of true reality. Some people confront this recognition by changing everything into an opinion; they fancy themselves high-minded relativists, but in so doing, they cheapen and deny the value of the whole effort.

Which, again, is not to say that the totality of reality is a fiction; it's just that, I am a feeble vessel for describing it. Alongside my passionate commitment to the truth is hopefully the recognition that I may not understand what I am trying to find, or even to defend. My arguments to those ends may be bad indeed. My apprehension of relevant supporting information could be in error.

I meant this to be about politics, but it could be about much more. So much the better. Most of all, I have failed to embody these ideals. But if we name them, we have a goal for which to keep striving.