Divided American on Display

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tommclaughlin
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Divided American on Display

Many things divide America today but the biggest is not race, not religion, not sex, nor sexual preference. They’re all in the mix but increasingly subsumed into that primary division — political orientation. There are intelligent people on both left and right and they all watched last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Kavanaugh. However, one side concluded that Kavanaugh is a drunken, sexual predator while the other believes he’s a victim of a savage, Democrat hit machine.

How can intelligent people see the same thing and interpret it so differently? Something the late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck wrote in one of his books keeps coming back to me. In The Road Less Traveled, Peck said we all construct maps to understand what’s happening in the world and navigate through life. They can be effective guides until the world changes. We may be driving along guided by a GPS unit with outdated software and find ourselves going the wrong way on a one-way street.

As evidence piles up indicating that our map is no longer accurate we have two choices: We can ignore the evidence by rationalizing it away, or we can do the work necessary to construct a new map — a new way of understanding the world. According to Scott Peck, most do the former because “the process of making revisions… is painful, often excruciatingly painful… Often this act of ignoring is much more than passive… We may denounce the new information as false, dangerous… We may actually crusade against it… and try to manipulate the world so as to make it conform to our view of reality. Rather than try to change the map, [we] may try to destroy the new reality.”

Politically, Americans tend to align with one party or the other. We trudge along for a while until we realize that neither offers a worldview we trust anymore. We can at that point declare ourselves independent, but we still tend to vote for one party or the other consistently. Almost by default, we find ourselves on the left or on the right. Is Bernie Sanders really independent? Is Angus King?

The rest is here.