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Left Coast / Right Coast: What is going on out there?

Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, A retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest.

Our society is on the verge of breaking down. A book by radio talk show personality Michael Savage, entitled "Stop the Coming Civil War" describes what one potential outcome could be if, in the words of Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?” Our nation has never been so divided since the actual civil war.

What is behind all of this? It’s actually simple. Those on the left are certain that those on the right (including our Administration, the House of Representative and the Senate) are convinced that these folks will be the end of America as we know it.

Those on the right are equally convinced that those on the left will also be the end of America as we know it. Unfortunately we seem to have lost our ability to appreciate the other side’s point of view.

I always like to quote the Socratic Method, invented by a fairly well known philosopher from ancient times (approximately 400 years BC). The concept is simple and is actually the basis for a great deal of how civilization learned from each other and advanced over thousands of years.

Simply stated, you have two sides that each has an opinion or point of view. One is called a “thesis,” the other is called an “antithesis.” The idea is that you argue (an academic term, not a disagreement) the two opposing points of view. Out of this comes a new “synthesis.” Thus knowledge is advanced.

So which side is correct? I say neither of them. If you look at political surveys taken in the past year or so, you find that approximately 40% of the voting public tends toward democratic policies. Another approximately 40% tend towards the republican policies.  But it is the middle 20% that mostly decides the results of elections.

If you look at these middle voters, you find people who generally are not political junkies. Rather, they are hardworking people who are worried about day-to-day matters. Such as:  a) Can we pay our home mortgage this month? b) Can we afford our kid’s higher education without having to sell our home to pay for it? c) Will our car last for another year without a multi-thousand dollar repair?

Most of us have similar concerns. So rather than engaging in heated debate (not the same as the Socratic Method as in that case, opposing sides actually listen to each other), I’ve gotten so careful in talking with others that I genuinely try to stay away from political topics. Reason, I actually would like to finish our discussion in the absence of gunfire.

You should not laugh, as when you see one group confront the other group, the anger displayed is not only anti-Socratic, but often becomes physical. People have died from meetings that started with a simple discussion about current events.

And that troubles me greatly. If we cannot appreciate the other point of view, then we unfortunately, might actually be headed for a civil war.

I’m sure you all remember (those of us old enough) what actually happened to Rodney King. After a severe beating by the police in L.A., a trial was held in L.A. on excessive force. Three of the officers, who administered the beating, were acquitted. In a subsequent civil rights trial, two were convicted and sent to jail, two were acquitted. Unfortunately, the verdicts set of a huge riot in the city. The police, National Guard, the US Army, and the US Marines were required to end the riots.

I peg this event as the beginning of the uncivility that plagues us to this day. When people stop listening and just assume their own point of view no matter what the actual facts are things degenerate quickly.

So I plead, “Please let’s just get along.” Listen to the other side before acting out on your conclusions.

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