Friday, October 30, 2009

The Divide

I think about what is right and wrong.

If people do not agree with me, then I am ready to discuss how they think about the subject.

A good friend of mine did an excellent job of teaching me about the other side of the argument. She said that she does not think about what is right and wrong. She just knows what is right and wrong.

My friend and I are divided. Since we are extremely tolerant, we are able to remain friends.

I first read about such the divide in a book by Thomas Sowell over a decade ago. I have heard/read similar libertarian discussions over the years. These discussions did not come home to me until my friend gave me the viewpoint above--she knows what is right and wrong, just like Sowell, et. al. said she does.

How do the people on either side of the divide view each other? Since my friend is so tolerant, I will leave her, in particular, aside in this analysis.

To me, the folks on the other side should think--should do analysis. They do not have impure motives. They are honest folks that have faulty methods.

But the folks on the other side see right and wrong as obvious observation that needs no method of analysis. So they view me--who differs from them--as purposefully choosing evil.

These are the two worlds.

A few years ago I was in the DMV, listening to a conversation between two young women.  One was telling the other how to achieve the good life.  "Have your baby.  Apply to this place for your housing.  Apply to that place for your support check.  Apply to this place for your medicaid.  Apply to that place for . . . " 

The one was teaching the other a life plan.

Young women like these end up being supported by government--never learning personal responsibility.  For me, that is no life at all.  Such a path gives no hope of achieving any meaningful purpose.  Typically, those mothers remain single and poor.  Their children will be poor.  They will more likely fall into a life of crime.

My heart breaks for these young women.  My heart breaks for their children.  I hate the system that robs them of the opportunity for achievement--though they are willing participants, I understand that a corrupt system will corrupt them, too.

But this is on my side of the divide.

On the other side of the divide, my friend's heart goes out to the single mother with no means of support.  How will her child live?  Where will they live?  We must give her housing and food and medical care and other necessities.  It is only right.

On my side of the divide the answer is to tear down the system that encourages the terrible existence.  A child must be a burden to the girl's parents if she is to be seriously taught not to bear children that she cannot care for. 

That is tough.  For me it is tough love--and the only kind of real love. For those on the other side of the divide it is hate.

Part of the divide is analysis vs. emotion.

Part of the divide is short run vs. long run.

But there is little hope convincing someone on the other side because both see the other's approach as alien.  Now and then someone has an epiphany. 

The people to whom I have spoken that have come over to my side of the divide have felt the ephiphany as powerful as being hit by lightning.  And the epiphany is as rare as being hit by lightning.

1 comment:

Christine Gram said...

I am on your side of the divide. I think because I know that everyone can be mistaken about what they conclude on first thoughts. That even great people can be horribly wrong. And I fear that I will be horribly wrong. So I try to understand what I feel, and live the best way I know how... but also try to open myself up to listen and to gather new information, from other perspectives. Perspective is a powerful thing.