May 16, 2016

When Being Reasonable Seems Revolutionary

Capuchin monkeys sharingWe live in an age of intense political polarization where individuals who prefer different candidates are often regarded as enemies, where tribalism and identity politics fuel misunderstanding and petty conflict, and where many people seem to have habituated to a chronic state of outrage. Against this backdrop, we find ourselves in a strange situation where striving to be reasonable and fair-minded is something of a revolutionary act, requiring us to go against the grain and risk social disapproval for failing to conform with what so many of our friends and neighbors are doing.

We will certainly make mistakes. We will be wrong at times. And yet, we are all capable of striving to be more reasonable, more fair in our dealings with others, and better models of the sort of behavior we would like to see more of from others. For example, we can learn how to:
The good news is that there are many things each of us can do to reduce polarization, tribalism, and conflict. We can learn to be more reasonable in terms of how we make sense of the world and how we relate to others in it. Doing so will sometimes seem unfamiliar or even risky, but it is not beyond our reach.

In the end, we must each come to terms with the realization that we cannot control what others do. We lack the authority or the means to shape others' behavior to suit our will. What we can do is strive to be more reasonable for our own sake and that of others around us. We can embrace reason and freethought.
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