Daniel Kligerman

Walking the Earth

Complexity & Disagreement

The divide between right and left has been growing to the point where the extremes of each side are dominating the discourse, and where even the more moderate are losing the ability to engage in dialogue. I’ve been observing the growth of the divide, and the breakdown of exchange of ideas, with an ever-increasing sense of dread. I believe that overcoming this divide to the point where constructive dialogue is once again possible is critical to the very functioning of the world as we know it.

To explore what is really going on, and get beyond the surface-level headlines and sound bites is not simple; it is not by accident that the left and right have been so effective at polarizing their supporters–their messages and emotional draws are powerful. As someone who identifies with the left, I found it difficult to extricate myself from the left’s ideologies sufficiently to understand the entire situation. Listening to more centre or right-wing content initially caused me to feel only frustration and defensiveness. It took many months of persistence, and exposure to a wide variety of views on both the left and right to start to develop a more fulsome understanding of what is actually going on.

The deeper my understanding, the more I realize just how complex this situation is. What is dividing the right from the left involves dozens, if not hundreds of issues, and each of these operate at many different levels. To fully grasp each issue requires a non-trivial understanding of some combination of history, psychology, linguistics, biology, sociology, logic, education, technology, law, and journalism. And yet, the vast majority of the “debate” between right and left occurs in offensive sound bites. The polarity of the overall situation is ironically paralleled by the divide between the depth of dialogue required and what is taking place.

Because of how combative things are between people with different views, negative emotions quickly take over and get in the way of any real progress towards learning the details that would foster real dialogue. In fact, people are not even getting to the point where they understand that the situation

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