We are living in an environment where no matter what the issue there is an extreme polarization of views with very few ‘in the middle’. You name the issue: political party, abortion, medical insurance, social welfare, immigration, racial injustice, taxes, etc. What happens when we experience this amount of polarization? We tend not to talk with people who hold the polar opposite view from our own because there is no common ground from which to build. We tend to label opinion writers based on the extreme views that they hold and talk about. But worse, we avoid people, news outlets, and social media postings with extreme opposite views from our own. We only talk and socialize with people that hold at least some similar views as our own. We become tribal. And the tribes are in conflict. I exaggerate a bit but the trend is clearly there. We are spiraling down a rabbit hole into a Neverland, a land of tribes that do not communicate because they hold no common ground – ‘A Polarization Rabbit Hole’.
We have talked many times in previous posting of what is required to maintain a healthy democracy. Citizens need to talk, to share their values and their issues/problems. This is at the core of ‘government of, for, and by the people’. This only works if people share some common ground. It certainly does not work if there is a wealth gap so extreme that ‘the 1%’ seem to talk a different language. Adding wealth is their priority while the majority work and sacrifice sometimes suffer for the lack of financial means.
So how do we climb out of the ‘rabbit hole’? It seems to me that the critical element is to build a substantial middle ground – for whatever the issue. More moderate thinking – not ‘my way or no way’. I think that people exist with moderate views but they are clearly less vocal that people with the extreme views. So we have to identify moderation and encourage it expression. Our hope is that people with either extreme view will see some, even if small, common ground with the middle. But this common ground may be sufficient to start some discussion. People may then start to understand the importance of ‘the greater good of the Nation’ as a priority over selfish individual goals. If our democracy can return to normalcy everyone will benefit in the longer term. We must learn and take the risk of being far-sighted and not myopic.
So what to do specifically? Talk. Engage. Comment on this blog posting. Share your thoughts. The rabbit hole is deep and it is going to concentrated effort on all of our parts to successfully climb out.