Why Can’t We Just Disagree?

As an addendum of sorts to my recent rant on the ineffectualness of politics, I offer this thought: Why can’t people just disagree? I’ve talked before about how hard it is to argue, and I think the current political climate only reinforces that.

The problem is that very few people can just disagree. We take disagreement to the next level by seeing the worst in people, flinging accusations and insults, and starting to distort the truth ourselves. You can see it in politics when someone points out the gaffes of one candidate, ignoring all context, explanation, apology or understanding, and then shrugs at the gaffes of their own candidate.

  • We saw it this past week when one side saw a major speech on a historic anniversary in front of 75,000 people as elitist hubris, while the other side saw the same event as a populist rallying cry, breaking down the walls of a convention where only insiders could attend.
  • We saw it the very next day when one side decried the inexperience of a 20-month governor of the 4th least populous state in the nation, while the other side embraced a Christian mom who fought corruption and government waste. (You could go on and on with this one, from the arguments that she didn’t really fight waste, has corruption of her own and the extremist slander that her youngest son is not her own)
  • We see it in church meetings where instead of talking about the issue at hand, each side jumps to conclusions about the other side’s perspective and the insults start flying.
  • It’s happening right now in my own town as police call protesters criminals and the protesters call the police Nazis. The back and forth is especially ugly here:

Protesters: The police raided us without cause!

Police: We seized weapons from the protesters!

Protesters: Did not!

Police: Did too: Tires and sling shots and buckets of urine!

Protesters: Those are ordinary household items and the buckets were part of a gray water system!

Police: Let’s go pull over that bus!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s how people have acted since the playground where mockery is how we relate. I just wish people could stop hurling unfair insults, could stop second guessing, could stop assuming the worst and just disagree with someone.

I don’t agree with the Iraq war and how it was handled, but that doesn’t make George W. Bush a bumbling idiot.

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