Tuesday, August 16, 2022

What Happened to Politics?

I want to save this thread by Jeff Rybak, defence lawyer, lecturer at the University of Toronto, and a not-for-profit corporate director: 

"I'm trying to understand what's happening with politics in Canada, especially on the right. I read a lot of comments, though I obviously don't have time to pick fights with all of them. Still, I have to say, I'm discouraged. We're seeing the worst in people lately. 

I'm seeing freedom defined as never having to do what you're told - even if that's just not to make life worse for other people. Forget about legal and illegal for a moment. We're just talking about human decency here. Apparently we're only free when that's optional.

I'm seeing equality defined as a society where government does nothing to help people at all and just lets them sink or swim on their own. That's what "fair" apparently. As opposed to taxation for any purpose, which is apparently communism.

I'm seeing people who genuinely believe everything can be solved by private means if it deserves to be solved at all: hunger, homelessness, illness, you name it. No one should be forced to pay for anything, but charity will fill the gap. Outsource it all to GoFundMe.

I'm seeing people who simply cannot distinguish between compromise and tyranny. Compromise is required to live in any complex society alongside other people. Yes, that involves following rules. Also, yes, it can go too far. But draw a line between the two, please

Here's my thing: I have to believe we can speak with one another. I have to believe we can reason with one another. I have to believe we can live with one another. If we can't, what the hell is the alternative? And, please, spare me your civil war fantasies. I do not believe society can be healthy when any significant portion of teh whole is dismissed from legitimate discourse. We can't dismiss the right any more than the left. We can't wave our hands at 30% of teh population and say, "shut up and eal." We just can't. 

There are too many angry people to dismiss them. Their anger has become so unfocused they simply hate the fact they live in society with people unlike them. That's a big problem. But we can't solve it by refusing to deal with the fact that they live in society with us. . . . We have to recommit to listening to one another, no matter how unpleasant it may be. So, I'm listening to the anger. I think it's making people say terrible things, but I'm listening." 

 I wonder if there's a way for people to be heard, then to narrow in on what's really bothering them (the concepts or events instead of the people or triggered symbols) that can be addressed. 

We're starting to respond to the anger by giving in to it. Some stores overtly ditched the mask mandates out of fear of retaliation from anti-maskers. Some teachers are afraid to discuss racism because of white nationalists. When the unruly get their way, it means the bullies are winning -- those frightening emotional responses are being more valued than reason, and kowtowing to the angry mob is a dangerous position to take.

So often when I see people chiding the use of pronouns as a show of support or allegiance, they have the same face and gestures as the kids in class who, you can just tell, are about to slam someone neurodivergent. Typically a teacher can take control of that situation. For instance, if someone's stammering out an answer, and some little noises of derision are filtering through the class, I'll point out that I could barely speak for years and make a congratulatory note of the persistence it takes to go on in the face of potential taunts - and then add - and I'm so glad we're above that in this classroom! If I side with the people who are on board, who want to help instead of hinder, and present the appearance that we're the vast majority, then the others quiet down. But what do we do when this kind of sneering show up in board meetings? 

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