I need some help. I need a way to signal to you that when I disgree with you, it doesn’t mean I support the “other side”. I mean you no harm. I am open to a lengthy discussion to really work things out. I don’t look down on you or think you are less just because you have a different idea than me. I support your right to have a different idea, while not necessarily supporting the idea itself as long as you agree to answer my questions about your idea and not use force to make me accept it. I have long ago taken to heart the wisdom that the person who is proven wrong in an argument based on reason and evidence is the real winner since they now have something they didn’t have before: the truth. I am open to change my ideas as long as you are willing to consider mine. Is there a badge I can wear or something I can do to my profile picture to make that clear?
Here’s why I ask: I am a voluntaryist. An abolitionist. Yes, an anarchist (no, not the bomb throwing kind). And while I have been pretty open about my views, I’ve not sought to actively engage with people who I know hold different views. That has all changed in the last few days. Not because I am afraid, but becase I see a tremendous opportunity.
The fear that propelled Trump into the Oval Office and the fear that has resulted from that outcome comes from a common source: people sense that the system is breaking down. That’s the opportunity: to use the examples of recent and future history to demonstrate that a system based on coersion will never work. But I’m not sure that I can capture the opportunity unless I figure this out first.
I think I’ve found some good ideas (I say found since it would be hubris to claim I came up with them….which is one of the maddening things about these ideas, they’ve been around for so long and aren’t more well known than they are. Perhaps that I should take that as a signal). Ideas about critical thinking, effective communication, getting out of our info bubbles, asking better questions, creating space between input and output, using tech with intention, and developing attention span and memory. But I also think thatI am sure that they will get better if I can respectfully share them with people that take the time to really listen (without assuming that by arguing against their point that I am supporting the popular opposite point), take time to consider and the respectfully share with me what they think I’m missing or got wrong.
I am ready to admit that some of my ideas may be too idealistic to see them lived out in my lifetime, or maybe ever, if you are ready to admit that the ideas we are using now aren’t working out so well for any of us. If you can admit that ideas like forced unity through coercion, the authority of one man over another (whether it be through the divine right of kings or the voice of the people in democracy) and the stimulus response loop we’ve been in are not resulting in the most happiness for the most people.
I respect your decision to avoid discussions with people that want to impose their ideas on you and when challenged can’t come up with anything more than “that’s just the way it is”, “because I said so” or even “because it’s in my particualr holy book”. But that’s not me. And I need a quick way to explain that to more than the ten people that might have read this post or else those ideas will never get better. Or else those improved ideas won’t be held by more people. And better ideas is the only way we are going to make things better for all of us.