This is another in a series of comments about creating and fostering substantial dialogue about important issues of our time. In Scott Edward Anderson’s recent post: Our Climate War: FRONTLINE’s “Climate of Doubt”, he touches upon the problematic nature of trying to discuss topics of import here in the USA. My comment is below:
I think this quote can be said for many programs that try to address energy and / or climate:
“What really troubles me about the FRONTLINE program last night is that we’ve lost all foundation for rational, reasonable debate in this country. We have become a nation of blamers and attackers. Anything we don’t agree with is shouted down rather than reasonably argued against. It happens on both sides of the issue and good people are getting hurt in the process.”
I’ve commented on this a great deal, and my position continues to evolve. The part of me that wants to be ‘cool and detached’ says that this is a natural process that will take place as various competing contexts and frameworks for how to even understand these issues play out.
The advocacy part of me says that there has to be a very, very strong push to try to keep expanding the realm of perception here. I don’t think humans ‘generally’ are very good at un-reduced concepts, or over-lapping, inherently multidisciplinary issues. Superstitions and other kinds of abstract explanations creep in a lot in such cases. What’s more, and in agreement with you, the nature of ‘discussing serious issues” in the US is laughable quite often, and perhaps even more often particularly ineffective. There are a lot of people and forces to blame for this divisiveness.
The one agreement that can be made is that there needs to be a forum for serious dialogue, and I suppose in a small way TheEnergyCollective is actually trying to afford that here.
From an analysts perspective, it is difficult to choose the right amount of cynicism; believing that dominant forces and base comprehension will win out – knee-jerk reactions, vs the more complicated and broad ‘possibilities’.
I suppose my latest thought about this is that there is really very little ‘free market competition’ about ideas like this; it’s generally a reduction of two or three forces/sides at play, and you have to have an allegiance to one side and see it as the truth.
It seems to take a very special situation to create ‘open’ discussion, where it’s not treason if you’re wrong, or have dueling propaganda machines cluttering things. I think the unfortunate situation of the person who really cares about energy or climate is that, if you really want something significant and meaningful to happen, you are going to have to, as a matter of course, put effort (tedious and often unproductive effort), into dealing with what the block quote is getting at.
To me, that’s what separates the troopers from the dilettantes or people who just want to make a buck off an idea – we have to tend the garden of discourse and discussion itself. While I used to be more reclusive in saying such things, I guess I’m just realizing it’s a matter of course now.
So, thanks for sharing.
For the regular reader of this site and it’s offshoots, this is a common theme, but I try to bring it up when I can; it’s about spreading the understanding and respect for substantial dialogue. I hope to expand more upon this in some YouTube videos within the coming weeks. Unfortunately, the tedious work of tending the garden and keeping it welcoming is something that requires us to gallantly encounter the ills, awkwardness, ignorance, haste, and all manner of neurosis that we ourselves have (often) done nothing to deserve. But this, I still maintain, is part of the price we have to pay; there are decades, even generations, of frameworks and ways of thinking that have to be waded through – and knowing when to be diplomatic or forceful is a challenge on its own.
With the weight of the world on your shoulders, can you give just a little more patience to have a meaningful conversation? I often falter on this matter, myself. If you’re persevering, know at least in spirit myself and others are there with you, trying to help it along.
‘we get to carry each other, carry each other’
- Jesse Parent
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