Polarisation Is One Of The Biggest Threats We Face
Will we be clever enough to resist the temptation of joining such spiralling madness?
It has taken me a long time to realise it and even more to accept it: polarization is at the heart of our society’s impasse. I was a teenager when I first heard the term; back then, it sounded more like a consequence of the fight against evil than a cause for any state of affairs. When someone suggested polarisation never led to viable solutions, I would scoff and consider such a voice a pathetic product of an increasingly apathetic world.
Why should we not be radical against nefarious practices? Of course, we should. Indeed, unless good matches the tenacity of evil, any resistance will be useless. If reactionary forces fight harder against change, we must double down on our pursuit of justice. However, we cannot fall into the trap of taking a stance and not moving from there. If we do, we will be doomed to an endless war of attrition. When the methods and terminology we use contribute to the chaotic spiralling of polarization, we should stop to think again.
Once we entrench ourselves in a position, no argument will move us from it. It is impossible because the position defines us, and changing our minds is an attack against our sense of self. Losing an argument becomes a threat to our identity rather than a step in refining it. When did we allow such reductionism to share our minds? It does not matter when: only that we should get out of the rut as fast as possible.
The information barrage of the hyperconnected world often prompts us to take such stances to make sense of a world too complex to understand. Simplistic arguments sell best when quality arguments require effort. If we add that we are all busy by default regardless of what we do for a living, we have the perfect reason to abandon critical thinking and embrace ideology.
The ideological human being is arguably the lowest form of human expression. Even the ignorant individual can cure their condition. By contrast, the one with a firm conviction will twist reality if necessary to make it comply with their views. When ideological soundness is a cornerstone of an individual’s identity, the collective’s survival is at risk. In this context, polarisation stretches the collective to its breaking point.
Everyone has a say, however small. Everyone is a drop in the collective ocean. We all have the responsibility to fight polarisation with pails of sympathy and compassion and — if fortunate enough to possess any — a pinch of common sense.
Written while listening to ‘No. 5’ by Christina Vantzou.
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