I’ve definitely noticed a human tendency: if you don’t see an answer to a problem, or the suggested answers are not to your liking, ignore evidence of a problem. This can be seen in operation if you say: “statistics suggest X” and the other person stonewalls evidence for X and then at some point says “but solution Y to X is unfair.”
That’s a different subject. The first question is 1) “what is true?” Not 2) “what shall we do about it?” Different questions. But it is obvious that a discussion of position #2 can only be conducted by those who agree that there is an issue. And that agreement upon what is true is influenced by whether people like the previously proposed solutions.
I find that childish and dishonest… and exceptionally common human behavior. FIRST discuss what is true. You will never get total agreement–in fact, some of the disagreement will come from saboteurs and Smiling Monsters who don’t like the proposed solutions (or are simply protecting their own interests, when the truth is that there is an unfair situation that benefits them). So once you’ve reached the level of certainty you have pre-determined to be appropriate, go right ahead and, among those in agreement, brainstorm solutions.
That said, also remember that you might be wrong. Seek ways to test your premise, of course. But also be careful to craft solutions that will not be disastrous should your premises be wrong. Try to find “generative” ideas. For instance, say you believe in anthropogenic global warming. There are those who are intellectually opposed to the idea, those who have been influenced by special interests, and those afraid that the proposed solutions will cause more damage than the warming itself.
Therefore, the best solutions will be those which will cause upset or damage to the fewest people. Harm to none. Give oil companies the opportunity to convert that trillion-dollar infrastructure to other purposes, perhaps. Incourage innovation in energy storage (which will be useful no matter what), and renewable energies (as gas prices rise, this becomes more of a no-brainer every day) while grasping that peak energy resources sustain the industrial civilization needed to maintain our seven-billion population. Discuss non-coercive, non-hierarchical means of population reduction. And so on.
Human beings have fears of extinction, poverty, lack, and hunger. These are real things. Grasping that racial, environmental, gender, legal and political issues impact the rules we’ve evolved for millennia is non-optimal. I see real genocidal terror lurking behind the apparently absurd reaction to a black actor in STAR WARS. And fear leads to anger, which leads to violence, which leads to the Dark Side…
Oops. Not what I meant. Maybe.
But the point is that you must both have the courage to move forward despite the fact that you will NEVER get full agreement, and also to protect the legitimate interests even of those who disagree (both because you might be wrong, and because they are our brothers and sisters as well). In addition, we should strive for compassion and connection even to those who cling to irrational beliefs in a right to hegemony. These folks only become more isolated and dangerous when mocked or reviled (and yes, I’ve made that mistake at times). Compassion works much better (even though insult and challenge can be sooooo much fun!)
So many issues, so many of which are wired into basic survival patterns or beliefs in a constructed reality. So be compassionate if you believe them wrong. Trust me: YOU are wrong about some of the things you believe in, and you would want the same compassion extended to you, yes? Would you not wish to be awakened gently, rather than beaten to death in your sleep?
I thought so.
(The “Star Wars Saved My Life” workbook will be available November 7th. We’ll give away 1000 free copies. To sign up, just go to: http://www.SFsavedmylife.com)