State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

Are Our Opponents Evil?

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” -Thoreau

Time for confessions.  When I have to drive during work hours, I listen to talk radio.  In the early afternoon this would generally be the Michael Medved show (1430 KLO in Salt Lake City).  Sometimes I agree with him, other times I wonder what he is thinking.  Yesterday he got me pondering a question for which I have no answer, as it requires in-depth knowledge of how others think.

I won’t try to quote him, but the basic idea he put out was that while he and most people on the “right” consider those on the “left” to be misguided, those on the “left” consider the “right” to be basically evil (racist, hating, etc.).  Is he correct?  Is there plenty of ‘evil pointing’ to go around on both sides?  I began to wonder how we really do view our political opponents, and how this realtes to pride and our ability to communicate. 

The best I can tell, there is plenty of ‘evil pointing’ to go around.  The pundit class seems to automatically associate high moral values to their own political opinions–those who agree with me are those who hold the highest principles or those who want the greatest good for the greatest number.  They also seem to associate lower moral values to their opponents–this guy is just in it for the money or the power, self interest at the cost of everyone.

I believe that inequality is a sign of pride.  I believe this is as true or possibly more true in communication and relationships than in material or any other things.  I have found that if I listen to someone as an equal, on equal moral ground, I have a much better chance of understanding what they are trying to communicate.  Only with true understanding can I then, giving their opinion equal value to my own, truly decide who or what is correct.  On the other hand, we often watch people discuss things (especially politics) with the conviction that they are right and morally superior to their opponent.  The discussion goes nowhere.  They often resort to tossing out clever one-liners or phrases that rally those who support their position without dealing with the issues at hand.  They tend to not deal with the better points of their opponent because they don’t understand them, because they don’t want to.  Such would risk being incorrect and causing their pride to fall.

A few years ago, a friend and I were discussing our views of the world which were totally opposite.  However, we held each other as equals in our hearts and minds.  I found a real freedom in being able to express any opinion or feeling without being judged.  Our discussions went on for the better part of a year, when I discovered that my friend was correct on the major point and I was incorrect.  Happy to have learned something, I was excited to tell him he was right.  It was actually fun to be wrong!  This doesn’t mean I didn’t argue my points fully.  This doesn’t mean we ever have to pretend to agree.  What I learned was that by discussing things on an equal level, we were actually more free to disagree, and also more free to learn from each other.

I hope that all who read this could be or become the people who are striking at the root of evil.  Let’s uproot the pride that will bring our downfall.  This is something we can do.  Let’s not let those who agree with us automatically assume a lower motive for our opponents, but try and foster an equality where issues can be discussed fully and respectfully.  Who could doubt that our country would function much better if this were accomplished?

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