'We Need to Have a Conversation'
Continually the left treats us to a whine about, well, about everything, and the complaint du jour always includes the phrase, “We need to have a national conversation,” as if just talking about a problem will fix whatever it is, and as if we can even talk anymore.
Recently, the ability to “have a conversation,” let alone actually solve a problem, has shriveled like a piece of rotting fruit. In part, the violence of this last week demonstrates that, but the problem has been a long time developing. Any productive conversation requires certain components, and if any are missing, communication, and therefore the development of solutions, becomes impossible.
Let me list these components:
Vocabulary: Those trying to talk to each other must have a common vocabulary that they use to mean the same things. Terms must not only be common, but stable – the meanings can’t vary or morph into something else at a moment’s notice. A colleague once raked me over the coals for using the word Hispanic to refer to our south-of-the-border immigrant students. Latino (or Latina) was okay, but Hispanic was offensive. Who knew?
I’ve lost any understanding that I ever had of what racist means and I have no idea at all what is meant by systemic racism. What system? Are there racist policies in the post office? Do police departments have black arrest quotas? If there are policies at fault (I think of the welfare system, the easy availability of abortion services, or the deplorable condition of schools in black neighborhoods), those affected need to address those issues directly. Stealing Rolex watches isn’t likely to be helpful.
I think of words like justice, which used to delineate one of the most foundational concepts in any functional society. But we add the word social and suddenly we’re saying that killing one cop for what another cop has done qualifies. In the name of social justice burning a building in Omaha atones for the death of a black man in Minneapolis. What?!
Social justice brings up the issue of slogans. So often I hear discussions in which the left can only repeat the latest talking points. It’s almost like these folks are just vending machines with maybe a dozen options and you can put in as many quarters as you want, but all you get are the same twelve lines. Push for clarification and you get nothing but mindless repetition.
Language is one of the greatest gifts God gave us and if the best we can do with it is create confusion and produce propaganda, then shame on us. We cannot connect with each other in the face of such linguistic malfeasance.
Common Goals: There needs to be some common goal before two parties can talk fruitfully. Time was, Americans were in favor of America, and therefore, any differences of opinion involved differing methods we might use to make America more successful. No presidential candidate promised to, “fundamentally change America”. Now we have two opposing goals: Make America Great Again or Punish and Kill America (by ridding us of cops and Donald Trump). There is no common ground between the two. We used to be able to maintain a balance between laissez faire economics and a more controlled approach, but today we have only polar opposites -- capitalism or communism. No middle ground there -- we’ve tried a middle ground and look where it got us.
It appears, as these race riots continue, that we no longer have blacks wanting to be included in American society, which they have every right to want, but we have blacks and illegals and Islamic radicals and sexual deviants and drug addicts wanting to tear down America. There’s no talking when death and destruction of one party is the goal.
Shared Values: Some common ground needs to exist. We need to operate on a mutual moral foundation. Do we agree that murder is wrong? Or is it only wrong when it’s a white person killing a black person? Is it okay when the black victim has yet to be born? Is it wrong to steal? What with cities refusing to prosecute thieves, private property may no longer be a community value. With massive stealing during these riots, and no repercussions, it appears that some new nuances in our understanding of theft have happened without our notification. When a Seattle city councilwoman can say, “I don’t know why people are upset about looting,” then what is there to talk about?
America was built on the common urge to create a free society, one in which the needs of the individual and the needs of a smooth-running community were in balance. People shared a reverence for dignity and decency and productivity. But what happens when a large and loud faction of the society sees no value at all in these things? When people parade down the streets of a city in various states of undress, performing various deviant sex acts as they go? When people are willing to just sit around and let others support them? When demanding respect instead of earning it becomes the norm? There’s just nothing to say. We need a common respect for personal ownership, for work, for innovation and dedication, for the innocence of children, for family, for the freedom to make one’s way in the world. That appears to be lost on a good chunk of our population, so how can we “have a conversation?”
Truth and Logic: Of even greater importance is a common respect for truth and for the rules of logic. If those involved in a discussion feel free to distort the facts, to outright lie, or to employ logical fallacies heavily lathered with disdain and hatefulness, how can any worthwhile conversation occur? In a recent discussion a liberal friend informed me that “facts” are no longer of any interest and another said that “logic” is not important (and this from a scientist with multiple doctorates). I no longer have conversations with these people -- because I can’t. A conversation requires that both parties approach the discussion with a curious and open mind, but when neither logic nor truth will be present, that can’t happen, because trust can’t happen and without trust, talk must be walled off and wariness replaces candidness. We end up talking to the proverbial brick wall.
Game Rules: In any contest, any discussion, any game, there are rules. Playing without those rules -- “playing tennis without a net” as Robert Frost put it -- is nonsense. If the goalposts keep changing, the referees (I think here of the media) are openly cheering for one side and not the other, how can the game go on? Some fundamental sense of fairness must prevail. I find it most disconcerting when the left simply barges ahead with no intention of engaging in fair play. I want to take my toys and go home. But we can’t. Our nation is at stake.
I keep hearing the slogan, “We’re all in this together.” But we’re not. We are on vastly different teams. Reasonable people don’t want it that way, but here we are. Pick a side. God will choose who wins, so choose well.
Deana Chadwell blogs at www.ASingleWindow.com. She is also an adjunct professor and department head at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. She teaches writing and public speaking.