Memo, first off — thanks for writing this piece.
Byron Go
31

So far, the best feedback I’ve received are the post like yours which bring an entirely different perspective to the matter. You’re right in many ways- we humans get so entrenched in our own logical arguments that it’s tough to listen to others, even when we are actually, consciously trying to do just that. This human dichotomy of the mind- the one that has to balance the ability to grasp deep mathematical concepts that follow logical reasoning with the mess of neurons tied to emotions and chemicals and who knows what else in a manner we still don’t really understand- makes these exchanges of ideas both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating because there’s so much to learn out there, and frustrating because the practical reality of our situation is such that we don’t have the time or the resources to stay in a blissful state of learning most of our lives. Rent has to be paid, children raised, and countries run if we don’t want to allow entropy to do it’s thing, which I believe we don’t.

Now that I reflect on it, I see I originally wrote this essay as a reaction to just this dichotomy. I have these ideas, which I, in my limited human way believe to be worth listening to- or at least, are the best ones my limited human brain can come up with. I send them out into the aether, eager to see them challenged and to challenge others in the abstract battle arena of ideas. On the flip side, I’ve seen how quickly the Sanders / Clinton camps have devolved into petty name-calling and cheap shots, and I wanted to rise above that- even as I made it clear where my flag was planted- by offering something calm and reasoned in a friendly tone. That was the intent, anyway. I’ve received lots of feedback, some of it predictably negative and closed-minded, but some quite intelligent, even when it disagrees with my choice of candidate. Which, to your point, is great and fulfilling and encouraging to know that we humans still care enough to reach out to each other.

But then the pragmatic survivalist side kicks in, the one that says, listen, I’m not 100 years old, but I’m old enough to know that civilizations don’t last forever, life is fragile, we’re really messing it up, the games people in power play are nothing new, but the magnitude of our power is new, our individual capacity for self-destruction isn’t, our global capacity for self-destruction is. And that’s where I’m stuck, where we’re all stuck, because ideas do have tangible consequences, and the Buddhist ideal of detachment doesn’t always jive with these messy, tangible realities (even if one wants to argue that these “realities” are actually the illusion.) In other words, these are dangerous times. Anyone that has children, or at least cares about our future generations has to be well aware that great, global things are afoot in our environment, with potentially disastrous consequences. And from that angle, we do have a responsibility to each other to make sure our thoughts and actions are justifiable; it’s not enough to say “to each his own” or “live and let live” when there’s people on this planet for whom “living” literally means not letting others live.

I would love to hear Lorraine’s story- and everyone’s story- and come to understand how she’s arrived at her conclusions. On the other hand, I do know a lot of people who support Clinton well enough to know exactly why her point of view appeals to them- and it doesn’t make their arguments any stronger or more convincing, though it does make it easier to remember that loving them is ultimately just as important as debating them, and definitely more important than getting hung up on our verbal disagreements. Actually, a good friend of mine and professional comic hosts a podcast called the Scuttlebutt every week (yes, that’s a plug!) She’s a fervent Clinton supporter, and we’ve agreed to have a friendly (but probably intense) debate this Tuesday, before the upcoming New York Primary. Given that it’s primarily a comedy podcast, I can’t guarantee we’re going to solve any world problems, but it should be, at least, something along the lines of what you’re talking about- two friends going past the arguments and trying to understand each other even as they passionately argue their points.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to respond. Yours is a good reminder about listening as much as speaking.

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