Do you have blogs you read -or people you see, or organizations to which you belong- that annoy you no end, but you read (or see or participate) anyway? What is up with that? Why subject myself to this repeated annoyance?
There's this blog. It's written by a thoughtful mathematician -not the one to whom I am married, although their fields of inquiry are similar. He muses about his religiosity, his teaching, technological geekery, his kids, a bit about politics now and again. He's politically, theologically, and morally conservative. I had really hoped that there was a possibility for dialogue, since clearly there is intelligence and reason here, and not an inconsiderable amount of shared experience. Unfortunately, I have not been successful.
I don't accept for the tiniest moment that there is something about conservativism itself which demands arrogance or sanctimony or shallowness. The conservative (and liberal, for that matter) pundits with those traits get a lot of air time, I grant you. But that's not the fault of conservatism, exactly. And of course I reject completely any notion that I am arrogant or sanctimonious or shallow ;) So, why has there been no dialogue? Why do I even care?
Temperamentally I am drawn to good questions over good answers. An elegant question can blow open a problem that seemed intractable moments before. That is such an amazing and fun experience, who needs cheap and easy answers? I am dissatisfied with an inelegant answer when there's another possibility (which means that this blog post is going to be a frustration, I can just tell.) And I almost never rule out the possibility of more than one answer. I'm not claiming that this is a better way to be; it's just the way I tend to approach things.
Conservatives seem to have different needs. Correct me if I'm wrong. Really. But among conservatives there seems to be an interest in THE TRUTH. And once you have it, of what use is dialogue? Evangelization might have a place, since you would certainly want to share the truth with other people. But dialogue and tolerance become less important.
But none of that helps me to understand why I bang my head against the wall, when there seems to be no possibility of anything constructive happening.
The sharp partisan divide in the nation's political culture scares me. A lot. I don't like the image I get when I imagine the legacy of this political climate. Two entrenched camps, with no mutual respect and a good deal of mutual name calling. Sound bites replacing thought. Stereotypes replacing evidence. Fear replacing inquiry. We're disturbingly close to that picture already.
We have to talk to each other. We need to seek common ground. We don't need to agree or convert each other or become best buddies. We do have to, in my estimation, be willing to learn from each other and to see each other as reasonable and ethical people. And that's why I read and comment on blogs that make my heart hurt.
But I don't get any sense that I'm making a difference.