"History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake..." -- James Joyce
From the "For What It's Worth" file... here's something that's been on my mind for the last few days...
Many people are curious -- perhaps even a bit put off with me -- as to why I have online and IRL friends who are staunchly reactionary, particularly now in the face of the Vulgar Talking Yam and the ascendency of the Mole People. I am asked, why I still have contact with these people, how can I countenance trying to talk to people whose essential values seem to utterly foreign to my own.
There are a few reasons... first is that I have a history with a lot of these people, for good or ill, I do and I find it difficult to walk away from that history. I actively look for the good in people and want to connect with that. Next, it feels like surrender to just cut people off with whom I disagree. I am a staunch believer in the Kantian "Moral Imperative" even if a lot of the people I argue with are not (even if they know what it is). And then there's my belief that there are only very few people who are actually evil; most are just scared, misinformed, just wrong headed, but not actionably evil (even if that's what they think of me).
That said, I also realize I have to take reasonable care to not inadvertently subject my friends to the same hate and vitriol I am railing against... I know I tend to charge headlong into the thing without considering who I might be dragging along with me, and for that I am truly sorry. I will try to be more considerate of this in the future, but in the meantime if that costs me friends, then I understand. I will be sad for it, but I understand.
But there is another reason for maintaining contact that I would like to discuss here...
I believe it is critical to keep lines of communication open with people I disagree with in times like this, because history is replete with blood-soaked examples of what happens when a large population divided along cultural, social, religious lines decides they really have nothing left to say to one another. The tragedy that follows the final breakdown of communication is not something to be taken lightly.
As a nation, we broke something last week and all we have left right now is our ability to talk it out. When we give up on even trying to communicate with one another, what comes next will likely be loud, violent and it will not be mistaken for a political rally.
Even if all we can do for the moment is just hurl our best snark at one another, we have to keep talking.
The alternative is something we should all be very frightened of...