4.22.2003

It would be nice to be able to say I understand this planet. But I don't. I just can't wrap my head around how people stick their head in the sand, how they cling unquestioned to their beliefs despite opinion (and sometimes evidence!) to the contrary. Are people trained or born with the inability to handle more than one concept at the same time?

I make it my personal goal to always understand and respect someone else's point of view even if I know that they are dead wrong. And I'm not just talking about "blue is better than green" wrong, I mean, "2+2=5" wrong. I've been wrong before on many counts where I thought to my core that I was right. I've learned not to espouse many things as fundamentally true. Is it so difficult to accept that we make mistakes? What have we been taught about mistakes and the tolerance thereof? Sure, certain things are not to be tolerated otherwise everything breaks down but surely there's room for leniency and accomodating.

Part of the problem lies in the belief of only one "true" solution and especially one "true" moral solution to problems. Killing people is bad because it's immoral. Is this valid? Why can't I say it is moral? I personally don't think killing people is a good thing. I don't want someone to kill me. So I'm against killing people. What if I did want someone to kill me? Can I then say killing is a good thing? Get out your guns! That doesn't seem likely. I feel safe in saying that it's a fairly universal sentiment that people would choose not to be killed if given the option.

Now what about something like abortion? Is it killing? Well, I think a major stumbling block is "Is it alive?". If you don't think killing is right, and you think it's alive, well, then you're against it. If you don't think it's alive, well, you're not killing anything, just a few inert cells. What do you do when you reach an impasse? Do you suddenly go ballistic and assassinate people? Hmm. Are you killing them or performing justice? I think it's fair to say individuals should not take justice into their own hands. In any case, a general policy is required in this society called law as to what is allowed and not allowed. But what prevents this from becoming a reasonable debate is the "black and white" outlook which doesn't help anyone and completely stops any progress in its tracks. Right and wrong are rarely clear especially when opposing sides differ on fundamental premises. If you really believe something is wrong compromise is not exactly your first thought. But it always comes back to the fact that you cannot know you are right. The solution that encompasses a multitude of views and allows for both sides to achieve partial satisfaction of their goals is often elusive. The satisfaction has to be enough that the matter will be swallowable. Which is why the best solutions leave both parties unsatisfied. It's an unpalatable philosophy but doesn't victimize one over the other (never underestimate the ability of people to feel robbed, denied, or generally hard done by). Victims rebel, rally and rage.

Sadly, people, for the most part, are unwilling to swallow anything but their own blind "truth". Then you have to ram it down their throat and hope that time brings wisdom as it often does. Sometimes, if you're lucky, the issue is made moot by obsolesence or circumvention. But don't count on it. The best bet is that even wrong principles are corrected by the majority over time. Deception and injustice are good in the short-term but erode readily.