You’re Being Stupid and You Need To Stop
A Series on the Loss of Intellectual Integrity in The United States.
This is Part One of “How To Stop Having Political Discussions Like A Five Year Old.”. You can find the table of contents for the rest of the series here.
Welcome to The Shit Show.
We did it! Without being overly dramatic, we just completed what could be called the most divisive American Presidential election in my 29 years of living on this planet. Friends have been lost. Spouses have divorced. Family holiday dinners have been avoided like the plague.
Granted, this election was a bit of an anomaly as far as recent history is concerned. On the one hand, we had an untruthful, inarticulate candidate who blazed his way to a presidential nomination by appearing to be “authentic” and absolutely demolishing every obstacle in his path. Committing one disqualifying mistake after another, somehow he ascended over 17 people to accomplish the impossible.
On the other hand, we had a candidate that some would consider one of the more qualified candidates in recent memory. However qualified, Secretary Clinton was shrouded in a blanket of secrecy, inauthenticity, and scandal. From shady ties to foreign countries to scandals that occurred while she and her husband were in the White House, the American people made a decision to elect her opponent.
I get the sense that the majority of people who voted in this past election penciled in their votes while feeling a tinge of disgust rolling through their gut. Of course, there were ardent supporters of both candidates, but with ridiculously low approval numbers for both candidates during election season, I can’t bring myself to believe that the majority of Americans were happy with their choices.
I have my own thoughts on how Donald J. Trump was elected president, and it is some combination of ideas from the four million articles that have done postmortem analysis over the past six months. However, that is not the point of this article. Go read those four million articles and make up your own mind.
Instead, I want to focus on the aftermath. Vaguely, I want to talk about what really makes me want to quit this planet.
Specifically, I want to talk about you, Dear Reader. If we are to complete an accurate analysis of our current situation and figure out how to come together, despite our differences, we need to talk about the most disturbing trend that causes me to lose sleep every night.
We Have Lost (Or Maybe Never Had) Intellectual Integrity
To be clear before we get into it: I am not calling you stupid. You aren’t. In fact, I would venture a guess that you’re an intelligent person capable of making good, logical decisions. You spend every day of your life analyzing situations and making decisions based of that analysis.
You can make good arguments for why you deserve a raise at your job, or why you need to save (or spend) more money. You analyze your finances all the time to make an important decisions on if you should really buy that new car. You can analyze tough decisions in your workplace and figure out great, innovative solutions to solve hard problems.
I repeat, you are not stupid.
However, you probably have your blinders on. Often, when it comes to societal issues, there is great difficulty in separating our values from our reasoning capability. When we hold something so closely to our heart, we are often unable to think in an objective manner to get to the actual truth. When our ideas are intertwined with our values, we feel that to be wrong means to be a bad person.
This is natural to human beings. We hate being wrong. Being wrong is a sign of weakness, and we hate being seen as weak more than anything in the world. It is instinctual to be strong. That’s why we don’t talk about our deepest fears. That’s why we tell people that we are doing fine, when deep down, we are struggling with some very real and palpable emotional issues.
Only by facing this truism can we find our way out of this mess. In the following weeks, I will be publishing a series of articles that talk about intellectual integrity, and how we can start to separate our identity from our ideas and find the actual truth.
I want my friends and readers on both sides of the aisle to take this article seriously. I am not advocating for either side of the fence here. I am advocating for intelligent conversation so that we can actually make any progress on the myriad of issues that we are (or will soon be) facing. The longer we wait to come to a consensus (or even compromise), the worse these problems get.
Restoring Intelligent Conversation
So how do we get past trivial name calling and back on track to having difficult, important conversations? Over the next few weeks, consider me your coach. We’ll be going over quite a few topics, and at the end I hope that we are both better at having a real, meaningful conversation.
However, before we get to that, I want to make a few promises to you.
- I will not be arguing for Conservatism nor Liberalism.
Throughout this process, I will do my best to not let my bias get in the way. The tools I look to provide will center around us learning together how to think and have an intelligent conversation. What I won’t be doing is telling you what to think. I’ll save that for my other articles.
With that being said, I will be using examples from the real world to establish my point. This will inherently result in you disagreeing with something I say. That is okay, just keep in mind the purpose of these articles is not to persuade you to believe what I believe. In fact, it would make me happy if you could argue a logical point that opposes me.
2. I will not pretend to be the smartest person in the world.
I’m still learning, as one should be for their entire life. The pointers I bring up will be centered around what I see when I watch the news or scroll my Facebook news feed. My main goal is not to be smarter than you. It is to result in a real, meaningful conversation.
3. I Will Tear Apart the Way You Think, but I still Love You.
You need some tough love. That being said, these articles come from a place of love and a need to help us all connect on a more authentic and intelligent level.
Ok, so now what?
Now you wait. Now I write. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing articles that will hopefully promote further intellectualism in you and the other people reading this series. I will make sure to keep links current at all times. You make sure to grab a drink and take this journey with me.
Josh Walker is a human being. He loves intellectual discussion, educating people, and helping to bring people together. You can read some more of his thoughts over at The Rizer.