Sometimes when tempers flare and hurtful words are exchanged, what people need to hear are words of healing. However, this often makes things worse and makes me wonder if we are actually better off just killing everybody.
Whatever: Sometimes people spout nonsense that needs to be challenged. Other times, nonsense is only an unimportant distraction. I use the term “whatever” to let them know that I am not challenging it and that they may even be right, but that I have something more important to say that I think they will also be interested in. It is a way of avoiding unnecessary conflict. Another way the word is used is to indicate that one is not picky and is perfectly happy with whatever. I use it this way when I am asked which restaurant I want to visit. There are of course derogatory ways to use the word, such as implying that one will not listen to whatever the other is going to say, but this is less common. Once, two of my coworkers were in a conflict. In order to deescalate, one of my coworkers used the term the nice way, but my other coworker took it the mean way. There was no deescalating it after that.
As ready as I’ll ever be: Once a customer came through drive-through, but there seemed to be a little bit of confusion. I tried to coax them to order, but they didn’t seem to realize I was ready to take it. Conflict was brewing and I needed a way to ease their mind and make my intentions clear. Finally, they directly asked me if I was ready to take their order. I replied enthusiastically, “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be!” I meant that I was so ready (and happy to help them) that it was not possible for one to be more ready – not that I couldn’t be bothered to be any readier. I think they took it the second way.
What is your problem: Another coworker of mine told me about the time he worked at a call center. He helped with troubleshooting and customer service. He would answer the phone with “What seems to be the trouble today?” or “What’s bothering you that I can I help with?” One day, what came out of his mouth was “What is your problem?” It didn’t go over well.
Meaning of meaning: My parents once got into a fight over the meaning of my father’s words to her. My mother eventually realized her mistake and tried to explain what those words meant to her so my father would understand. By using the term “means to me” rather than simply “means,” she was allowing my father to be right. They were words of healing. He would not allow her to use the word “meaning,” claiming that the only meaning a word could have is the one in the dictionary. They continued to argue over the meaning of the word “meaning” for half an hour – far longer than the original argument.
All lives matter: There are those that need to be reminded sometimes that all lives matter. People find it easy to dismiss the needs of the homeless or of convicted felons, blaming them for all of their troubles. Others seem deaf to the troubles of immigrants (legal and illegal) or of the unborn. More recently, there have been blacks, angry about how they have been treated by law enforcement, that have tried to remind us that black lives matter too. Those sympathetic to the cause have offered words of healing, saying essentially, “Of course they do; all lives matter.” The response has been less than welcoming. Those trying to help have been pushed away. Instead of working towards a solution, we are now in a war of words over whether black lives matter or all lives matter, which is silly because all lives necessarily includes black lives. I’m really starting to get upset.
Choose life: There are those that are pro-choice even when the choice is to end life, and there are those that are pro-life even when life can only be saved by eliminating choice. It is a very emotionally-charged subject that needs words of healing more than any other. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could work together to save as many lives as possible without ending choice? Wouldn’t it be nice if people chose life? Whether it solves anything materially or not, isn’t it good for the sake of harmony and our well-being to propagate the slogan “choose life?” Pro-life individuals can promote it because as long as they cannot control the choice, they want to encourage others to willingly choose life. Pro-choice individuals can promote it because they want the pro-lifers off their backs so that they can retain choice for the rare, extreme circumstances that a life must be ended. It is a win-win for everybody. Unfortunately, there are those that find such a slogan offensive because it is clearly anti-choice, choice being meaningless if one is not using it to end life. I’ll remember that the next time I’m making a choice. Let’s see, chocolate, strawberry, or kill idiots?
Just a theory: Religion is almost by definition dogmatic, whereas science is supposed to be forever open to inquiry. For several decades now, science has become just as dogmatic as religion. The nutritionists turned against fat too quickly and recommended eating more servings of grains per day than anything else. Only now are they starting to change their minds. Global warming was pushed on us long before all the data were in. Those of differing opinions were ignored, laughed at, and had trouble getting funding. Biological evolution is often taught in such a way that makes it seem unquestionable. Once in a while it is important to remind people that it is a theory – a model that has so far made meaningful predictions but is ultimately unknowable. Creationists would rather discredit it completely, but the kinder ones have taken a moderate approach, reminding us that all scientific models (including creationism) are just theories. With the idea that we have already found an unquestionable truth rejected, we can then have a productive, civil debate on the comparative merits of the theories. These are also words of healing. Strangely, there are supposed scientists that reject the offer and claim evolution to be a fact. Either they don’t understand science, or they are lying in order to cause division and turmoil.
FOX bias: I was once talking with a self-described liberal. He made the claim that FOX News was biased to the point that they were nothing but a propaganda machine for the RNC. My experience had been that FOX was no worse than ABC or CNN. They all show bias sometimes, but still provide real news worth watching. On the other hand, MSNBC truly is not a news organization. It is a propaganda machine not worth watching except to understand what the millions of gullible sheep who watch it are babbling about. I wanted to understand how this liberal came to determine what was and wasn’t a reliable source, hoping to learn something myself as well as possibly introduce some critical thinking where this liberal needed it so that he could eventually reach his own conclusions using sound reasoning. I started by admitting that I had seen examples of bias on FOX, but added that the jury was still out on whether they were completely devoid of value. I moderated my position hoping we could meet in the center. The liberal responded that if the jury was still out for me, than I was completely hopeless and not worth talking to. I had opened my mind up to being shown how bad FOX really was and was ready to learn of possibly better sources. Instead of trying to pull me over to his way of thinking, the liberal shut me out ensuring that we would continue to be enemies. This same guy had told me previously I was some sort of right-wing extremist when I know that I am quite centrist – just ask my Republican friends.
Phil Robertson: Some people are downright mean to homosexuals. Others aren’t. When directly asked what he thought of the subject, Phil gave no opinion of his own but appealed to consensus and authority. He quoted the bible in a country that is over eighty percent Christian. He went further to say that it was God’s job to figure out what to do with them, while his job was simply to love. It was quite possibly the least controversial thing that has ever been said on the subject ever. They were words of healing. Did he win a medal? No, they tried to kick him off his own show. The backlash over his statements were worse than I’ve ever seen for statements others have made that are actually hurtful. Do homosexuals prefer to be insulted? Because if they keep acting the way they’ve been acting, people aren’t going to stop with insults.
When I try to tell people that I misunderstood them, they take it as insulting them that they were not more clear. When I try to tell people they misunderstood me, they take it as insulting them that they are not smart enough to understand the stuff I’m saying. I’m done arguing with you. Next time I will keep my mouth shut and pull out the acid and flamethrowers. Apparently it is the only language you understand. This especially goes for those that will suggest that I’m promoting violence by writing this post. I’m not the one promoting violence – you are! If you mind your own business and shut up you will be left alone. If you attempt to intimidate me, I will torture you in creative ways and leave your body in a public place where it cannot be easily removed, leaving people to scratch their heads trying to figure out how it got up there, where the other pieces are, and why it glows in the dark.
I hear all the time that we shouldn't elect someone too rigid that will walk away from a good deal while waiting for a great deal and end up with nothing. This is true, but sometimes compromise isn't all it is cracked up to be. I've been called stubborn even in areas of life outside of politics, so I know something about this.
What we think about people who are stubborn:
The truth about people who are stubborn:
I'm all for compromise - when it is done right and it is a good compromise. I understand that others have their own set of concerns and that I do not know everything. I value peace and unity. I know that sometimes I am better off enduring some injustice than making enemies who would only add to my problems. There are many issues I am flexible on and I wish our leaders were also. However, compromise is not always a good thing, and I sometimes wish our leaders were less flexible.
How compromise is supposed to work:
How compromise actually works:
Perhaps it's time to elect someone a little bit bull-headed.
After every election, the questions I usually hear from half of the electorate are: What is wrong with people? How can there be so many idiots? With everything that was going on, how was it not a landslide? There is a lot of mystery not only of what drives voting behavior, but how people think in the most basic ways. There is a huge lack of understanding between different groups of people. Not only do people not understand why more people don’t think like them, they find time and time again that predictions based on how they think others think are spectacularly wrong. The truth is none of us even knows how others think, let alone why. Unfortunately, I’m still working on the answers myself, but in this post I describe several theories I have heard. Discussing them ought to help point us in the right direction.
It seems like everybody is picking on Obama for his remark during the third debate he made about the navy. Some point out that bayonets (and horses) are still used in our armed forces, while suggesting that Obama claimed they weren’t (he actually just claimed we used fewer). Others claim Obama was rude and condescending and that he suggested Romney was unaware things had changed since the days of chariots and spears, but I didn’t take his comments the same way.
Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say a lot of silly things for which they are criticized, but it is often missed that they have good reasons for saying things the way they do. Sometimes, statements are made in direct or indirect response to equally silly things that Democrats have said.
Does Mr. T promote incivility? An event several months ago got me thinking about what truly drives incivility. It’s not simply calling people names or shouting at them. It’s certainly not pointing out the flaws of your opponent in the context of a political campaign; this is expected. The problem has to do with thinking the worst of people.
Capitalists and Socialists debate over them, but which side are they really on? The labels we use don't make a lot of sense.
The author of this article has some of the same suspicions I’ve had for a long time; the two major parties collude on certain issues and not always in ways fair to the rest of us. Crony capitalism and the welfare state tend to go hand in hand and both major parties are guilty. Hopefully, understanding this will be the first step to overcoming partisanship. We need to stop defending our preffered parties when they screw up and remain true to our principles.
Furthermore, it shows yet another reason why labels are more trouble than they’re worth. Most people are against both crony capitalism and excessive welfare states (it seems) and so most people don’t fit the left-right paradigm. I had wanted to call both crony capitalism and welfare forms of socialism, but this would only confuse people; the word socialism means different things to different people. I had wanted to say that remaining true to our principles and rejecting both major parties was what the tea parties were all about, but the "tea party" label has become tarnished. People would assume I was endorsing violence, anarchy, big business, racism, or a mere front for the GOP to take down Obama. None of this is true.
I recently found a couple of links at the Coffee Party website you may find interesting. Why is politics so divisive? What drives it? How did we get here? One woman makes the case that it is the news media and lays out how it evolved over time.
Be sure to check out her other post on how "argument culture" hurts America.
I was recently perusing RealClearPolitics and came across this video of a man (perhaps unknowingly) setting up a new narrative to current events that opposes the one I have found personally more useful.
I was perusing RealClearPolitics.com recently and came across Jimmy Hoffa's recent "declaration of war on Republicans." There are serious problems with his statement, but probably not the ones you think.
Classifying people into liberal, conservative, and moderate camps is difficult for a number of reasons. Today I wish to introduce a concept I call “ideality levels.” I suspect that I will link to this post often in the future.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was once married to a woman named Cheri. In 1994, she left him and moved to California. Three years later, she came back and they remarried. They are still together. Since Mr. Daniels is a public official, and his name was once even floated as a possible presidential candidate, there have been speculations as to his character. Does this divorce-remarriage incident tell us anything?
Some guy burned a Koran. Then there were riots. Many people (including Sean Hannity) blamed the book-burner for putting our troops in further harm by provoking Muslims. The question nobody seems to be asking is, who provoked this guy into doing the burning? Past rioters? If it makes sense to blame someone other than the rioters for rioting, doesn’t it make sense to blame someone other than the burner for burning?
Sorry, readers. I have been busy again. My employer has me working overtime and I've had lots of errands. I haven't had much time to keep up on the news or write.
It did occur to me the other day that I should probably answer the partisan claims made about the recent government shutdown. Democrats blame the Republicans, claiming they ask too much and have pursued a radical agenda that has little to do with cutting costs or balancing the budget, cutting essential services while maintaining questionable ones. Some have even gone as far as to imply that Republicans want to kill women and old people. Republicans blame the Democrats, countering that their budget proposal only returns spending to 2008 levels (after the dems had control of the congress for 2 years), nothing radical like 1789 levels. They claim that the Democrats failed to pass a budget last year when there was a Republican minority, probably just so that they could make an issue out of this now to blame Republicans for. They claim that at current levels, the various government programs in question will run out of money soon and that all they are doing is SAVING the programs by making some sensible spending cuts and improvements in efficiency.
Who's right? Well, logic alone dictates that since the shutdown only occured because an agreement could not be reached, and if either side got exactly what they wanted there would have been no shutdown, neither side can be held exclusively responsible. Republicans failed to agree to Democrat demands for reasons similar to why Democrats failed to agree to Republican demands. Everybody wishes there was a greater willingness to compromise, but both sides feel that their own side has already compromised more than enough.
It seems to me that our time would be better spent seeking solutions than playing the blame game.
Some nut named Jared shot twelve people including congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people went looking for someone to blame.
It is no mystery to those who know me that I dislike political labels. Now I find some people that actually like them.
Though I am not yet ready to whole-heartedly endorse them (I am uneasy about most campaign finance reform, which is one of their issues.), www.nolabels.org is still worth checking out. They are a non-partisan organization that proposes eliminating the use of partisan labels from political discourse.
I recently read the article Climate Heretic by Michael D. Lemonick in the November 2010 issue of Scientific American. The author profiled Judith Curry and told of what she’s been up to lately. Judith Curry heads the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is known for her work on hurricanes and arctic ice. Lately, she has been engaging both skeptics and believers in the global warming debate.
Since Obama's inauguration, the GOP has somehow picked up the label of being "the party of NO." While this is terribly inaccurate and misleading, it is partly a fate of their own making.
I recently read this article about why simply properly informing the misinformed often backfires, leaving things in a worse state than before.
According to this article, partisanship sells. This makes me wonder; to promote civility movements (like this blog), should we form a new party just as partisan as the ones we already have? Can non-partisanship be a partisan issue?
History is complex. Economics is also complex. The history of the economy is extremely complex. In order to understand it, some relevant facts must be left out and a narrative must be imposed to sift patterns out of the chaos. Add partisanship to the mix, and you will end up with (at least) two very different stories.
I recently came across this blog post claiming that Sarah Palin (and the right wing in general) were consistently more violent in word and deed than the left. I think that perhaps the author read a bit too much into Palin's words and assumed that she was inciting violent activity. I think maybe she was speaking metaphorically. The author also went on to claim that the right often gets a free pass in the media while the left gets called out for every little outburst.
As I wrote before in my entry Partisan's Disease, members of both parties are quick to see the worst in the other side.
Hi, I'm Dan. I like chocolate, hiking, and politics.