We are in an era where demonization of the opposing side is expressed via tweets and clever memes, oft formulated by willful misinterpretations of what the other side truly meant, all for dramatic effect. Aggression displayed digitally.
That aspect of post-modernism where we subtract the authorial intent and choose to interpret the message in the most negative light possible has become mainstream in our responses to anything political. Such responses are influenced by pundits and biased news media organizations on both sides of the political spectrum. News is filtered and spun in light of an agenda. Narrative now ranks higher than truth. News neutrality is a thing of the past. People talk about how politicians are dividing our country more than ever, but I hold journalism sources at least equally responsible.
As Sean points out, we fail to take the time to listen to the other side. We lack empathy. Parent A is anti-gun because they lost a child to a gun incident. Parent B is pro-gun because they were able to use a gun to fend off armed home invaders and thus protected their child. Both of these individuals have a value basis for their stance, but their messages are drowned out by the regurgitated insults, biased articles, and narratives.
Facts are problematic for people. Why? Because people want to believe their viewpoint is solid, and if facts threaten their belief, they react with dismissive and/or insulting commentary instead of taking the time to evaluate the facts and allowing evidence to shape their view. Political group think is disturbing because it causes people to preserve a narrative by ignoring facts and avoiding dialog. If you associate with political party A, then you feel pressured to take their side on all subjects and automatically dislike party B.
Yes, there are both intelligent and not-so-intelligent people on both sides, but what irks me is when one side labels the other in a derogatory way as if that dismisses value statements coming from the opposing side. Wall Street Occupiers were dismissed as lazy people with no ambition who emerged from their parents’ basement. Tea Party members were dismissed as racist rednecks. These allegations were lobbed by hosts/anchors/talking heads on cable news networks to drown out the messages coming from the Occupiers and Tea Partiers, despite the absence of validity of these derogatory allegations.
In conclusion, I appreciate the noble effort by Sean in this article, however I doubt we’ll see healing in our lifetimes. I fear things will only get worse.