Once a week.
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
On Politics (I need your feedback)
The past three days I’ve gotten in two political arguments with folks who I perceive as creating rifts in the political process and slowing things down. The first was with Karl Rove and a Karl Rove supporter. The second was with an old classmate from film school who was protesting our treatment of George Bush and Barack Obama.
His exact words are as follows:
“When terrorists killed thousands and we fought back, you said “murderer.” When the idiot took over the banks and auto companies, wants to eliminate term limits, takes Palistine’s side, kissed our enemies’ feet, and wants to “just talk” to our long time nemesis, you still call him hero. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH OUR FREAKING COUNTRY?!?!?!“
I am really fed up with our inability to broach issues. What follows is my first attempt at a piece of writing on this issue. It was written quickly and is a quick edit of something I wrote re-actively as a response in an email, and because of this it seems rough and incomplete. I’d love your feedback and thoughts on this issue to help clarify this important issue.
Before I get too deeply into this, I want to be clear: no party gets what I’m about to say right. I’m engaging you because I hope to sway your opinion one-on-one, not because I’m claiming liberals or conservatives are any better at the course of action I’m suggesting. Our political system is very broken, and people on both sides of the aisle are responsible. I’m hoping that some of us can adopt civility and use our example to influence others, and eventually, to influence the system.
The claims that I’ve seen made from political pundits and journalists grate on me daily. Few if any of their points is intended to be a critique of a policy decision that describes why the decision was wrong, they are all one liners that offer no real analysis of any action, but serve to sound very bad and make people fearful. Here’s how a message could be packaged in a way that creates opportunity for discussion:
“Obama is pushing the agenda of meeting with Iran without preconditions. Opening lines of communication like this legitimizes a brutal regime that hates us, as the only superpower in the world our vote of legitimacy is an important one and we should be more careful about how we use it — offering to meet Iran without trying to use the value of that meeting to force them to make changes is a mistake.”
I would probably rebut that, as I believe openness offers far more power in the decentralized world that has evolved over the past two decades, but at least I can respect the viewpoint put forth — and discuss it rationally. If a pundit were to defend their viewpoint, whatever it is, with that level of detail I can rationally evaluate it and decide if it offers anything.
This is hard to do, because it makes us vulnerable. Complex, well thought out ideas that resound with many people on different levels can be retorted with pithy one-liners that inspire a frothy response from a core group. In those situations it often feels like the complex thought loses — but in reality that thought has contributed to a better conversation, better information for decision making and a move towards slowly bridging gaps and potentially widening it’s proponent’s appeal.
Complex, well-defined plans should not be the types of propositions our system punishes, and if more of us on both sides start to value discussion over rallying behind sound bites, we can marginalize those who cling to the us vs. them mentality. This can’t come from one party, it’s got to be a widespread effort.
What most pundits discuss serves one purpose: To anger people who align opposite them and rally people who align with them. Most of the folks that defend these actions and follow their lead, don’t do this purposefully, but are reacting to feeling marginalized politically. It’s an understandable emotion to be annoyed, fearful, and angry when people in power share very different goals or beliefs than you. Lashing out in that situation is common and comforting. It isn’t effective though, as it only increases the rift between the groups. Emotions have no place in politics, it is a complex world that is built upon compromises, and compromises require rational thinking.
I have faith that many of us are equipped mentally, spiritually, and physically to recognize that our initial reaction isn’t always constructive and because I believe us to be capable of that, I hope that we’ll engage in more meaningful ways.
If dividing citizens and encouraging them to fight with and ignore each other is your goal — we must marginalize you.
What do you think?
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.
- The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
- According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
- "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.