Brexit and why we can no longer think straight
Just for nothing, I looked up the definition of inured today. We all know it means becoming less sensitive to things, particularly unpleasant things. What I found interesting were some of its synonyms: hardened, tempered, armored.
As inured as we may have become to the never-ending stream of terrible events around us, I don’t think we’ve become hardened or tempered at all. I think we have developed a habit of defining the parameters of the world we want to live in and then blocking out all the rest.
You could argue that men and women have been doing that ever since we crawled out of the caves.
But I think it’s a little more complex in today’s world where we have the ability to become aware on demand of what we want, when we want it. If we want to be citizens of the world we can dial in Al Jazeera; if we want to go deep on the Kardashians that is certainly on offer and if we want to get away from everything there’s always Gardener’s Question Time on Radio 4.
To a degree, there’s nothing wrong with defining the world you want to care about.
But only to a degree and for two reasons.
- When big issues come along, such as today’s Brexit vote the, people who are waging the debate know that our visions are proscribed and that the best way to reach us is not with logic and facts, but instead with highly-charged rhetoric that touches your heart not your brain. It’s not that they doubt your intelligence; they actually fear it, hence their stategy of conjuring up emotions that allows them to mask the underlying reality.
- There other huge issues in the world that simply don’t get any attention at all. When was the last time you saw regular coverage in a UK newspaper or television station on all the harsh conditions associated with life in places like Sub Saharan African or the poorer nations of Southeast Asia. To be fair, a disaster or coup will get some air time, but frankly our understanding of how our fellow inhabitants of the world exist is pretty limited.
The blur of data points and images in which we live has caused us to seek shelter within ourselves. Fair enough, but looking beyond your backyard or your TV screen allows you to make better judgments on what’s being presented to you.
The Brexit debate should be studied for the disgusting and insulting way in which we were treated by both sides. While we can’t expect the political elite to change stripes, we can elevate ourselves and by doing so, demand a better grade of discourse from those who are supposed to be our leaders.